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St. John's RNC officer’s sentencing decision set for later this month

RNC Const. Joe Smyth holds hands with his wife prior to the start of proceedings in his sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s Thursday morning.
RNC Const. Joe Smyth holds hands with his wife prior to the start of proceedings in his sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s Thursday morning. - Rosie Mullaley

Joe Smyth’s lawyer has already appealed the conviction

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

RNC Const. Joe Smyth likely won’t see jail time for an obstruction of justice conviction.

During the 40-year-old’s sentencing hearing at provincial court Thursday morning, neither the Crown nor the defence recommended a period of custody behind bars.

Instead, prosecutor Lloyd Strickland suggested a three-month conditional sentence, which would be served in the community, while Smyth’s lawyer, Jerome Kennedy, said a discharge or suspended sentence could be imposed.

Judge Mike Madden will render his decision April 30.

Whatever the sentence, the case won’t end there, as Kennedy informed the judge that he has already appealed the guilty verdict. Arguments in the appeal is scheduled to be heard June 21 at Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.

Both defence lawyer Jerome Kennedy (left) and Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland agreed during the sentencing hearing Thursday that RNC Const. Joe Smyth does not need to go to prison for obstructing justice. - Rosie Mullaley
Both defence lawyer Jerome Kennedy (left) and Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland agreed during the sentencing hearing Thursday that RNC Const. Joe Smyth does not need to go to prison for obstructing justice. - Rosie Mullaley

Smyth was charged in relation to an incident that happened May 12, 2017, when he stopped a motorcycle on Torbay Road in the capital city and issued the driver, Sayed Husaini, four traffic tickets, including one for running a red light. Footage from Husaini's Go-Pro camera revealed the light was actually green.

In convicting Smyth in February following a trial, the judge noted that while there were unexplained gaps in the video and that Smyth had been investigating accounts of a motorcyclist driving recklessly in traffic, after reviewing all the evidence it was “inexplicable” that Smyth thought the light was red.

During the sentencing hearing, Strickland told the judge that he opted to suggest a conditional sentence for a few reasons — including the fact that it was a Highway Traffic Act case, in which Husaini was not at risk of “losing his liberty.”

Also, Strickland noted that up to that point, there were no issues with Smyth’s work as an officer in respect to trying to find the driver of the motorcycle, which had been spotted speeding and driving dangerously in another part of the city weeks before. Husaini’s orange Honda Repsol matched the description of that motorcycle.

Strickland also acknowledged that Smyth suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has worsened since court proceedings began, according to his doctor. He noted that the doctor also said one of the symptoms of PTSD is the tendency to be “overzealous.”

Kennedy said Smyth, who is married with two young children, has been an RNC officer since 2001 and has been suspended without pay since last year. He said he’s facing the loss of his career and pension and has been subject to public scrutiny.

“The media attention — and I’m not criticizing anybody — has been unbearable,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has pointed out several times during proceedings that this case only ended up in criminal court because Husaini found out the officer was Smyth.

Smyth is the RNC officer who shot and killed Dunphy on Easter Sunday in 2015 in Mitchell’s Brook when he was a member of then-premier Paul Davis's security detail and was investigating tweets Dunphy sent that referred to government members. An ensuing public inquiry cleared Smyth of wrongdoing in that incident.

Kennedy said Smyth has “full-blown PTSD” and that his doctor told the court he shouldn’t have returned to operational duty as soon as he did following the Dunphy shooting incident.

The courtroom was again crowded Wednesday with fellow RNC officers, reporters and some members of the public, including the daughter of Donald Dunphy.

Requests for interviews have been turned down while proceedings are ongoing.

Twitter: TelyRosie

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