RCMP Cpl. Monty Robinson turned to alcohol following a fatal 2008 crash for comfort, he testified in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday morning.
"Why? I don't know. I wasn't thinking. I went for what had given me comfort."
Under questioning from his lawyer, Robinson described "layers of crisis" and his increasing alcohol consumption in the years leading up to the crash.
Robinson is charged with obstruction of justice in the Oct. 25, 2008 crash that killed 21-yearold Orion Hutchinson, who died after the motorcycle he was driving collided with Robinson's Jeep at the corner of 6th Avenue and Gilchrist Drive in Tsawwassen.
The obstruction of justice charge stems from Robinson's actions following the collision. The officer left the scene, which occurred at about 10: 15 p.m., and walked home, a short distance away.
He returned 10 minutes later and advised police he had two beers at a party earlier and two shots of vodka at home.
He was arrested and given two breathalyzer tests at 11: 56 p.m. and 12: 16 a.m. Robinson's readings registered at .12 and .10, both above the legal limit.
When questioned by his lawyer Tuesday morning, Robinson denied deliberately drinking the vodka to throw off the breathalyzer.
An expert in substance abuse testified Monday that Robinson's behaviour following the 2008 crash was the result of a "severe" alcohol addiction.
Dr. Paul Sobey was retained by Robinson's defence lawyer to assess whether the Mountie, who was off-duty at the time of the collision, was dependent on alcohol at the time.
Sobey evaluated Robinson for several hours in January of this year about his mental state, drinking habits and other factors around the time of the crash. The doctor concluded he met five of the seven criteria for addiction and classified his alcohol dependence as "severe" around the time of the crash.
In his report, which was read out by Crown prosecutor Kris Pechet, Sobey outlined the series of events that occurred on the night of the crash as was relayed to him by Robinson.
He told the doctor he arrived at a party with his two children around 5 p.m., stayed for a while and then went to the store to buy alcohol for the party host, her boyfriend and himself. He purchased a six-pack of beer for himself and, the doctor noted in his report, recalled drinking four or five in a "continuous pattern over the evening."
Robinson also described the chaotic accident scene to the doctor and said his primary concern was to get his kids "out of there."
According to Sobey's report, Robinson said he took his kids home and got them settled in bed.
"I was shaking pretty bad at that point," Sobey quoted Robinson as saying.
The officer told the doctor he went downstairs and poured two shots of vodka and then returned to the scene of the crash. According to the report, Robinson did not measure the size of the shots.
Sobey said the use of alcohol after a stressful event was consistent with the type of behaviour he sees in men who have an alcohol problem.
He added that during the evaluation he determined it was "quite obvious that he was depressed in 2008," however, Sobey said he could not determine if the depression was a primary condition or related to Robinson's alcohol abuse.
During cross-examination, Pechet pointed out that in 2006 Robinson was one of 36 RCMP officers to take an undercover officer training course.
To be accepted into the course, he said, Robinson had to undergo a psychological evaluation and he was given, and passed, an annual psychological assessment in 2007 and '08 as well.
The Crown wrapped up its case Monday morning with testimony from a woman who testified that Robinson told a group of people at a 2007 Christmas party how to avoid an impaired driving charge.
Anne Rough, who graduated from South Delta Secondary along with Robinson in 1988, testified that he told a group of people at the party how to avoid detection if you get stopped in a roadblock.
Rough said the conversation centered around the deadly Taser incident at YVR before someone starting talking about drinking and driving.
She said Robinson recommended guzzling mouthwash to throw off the breath test in a roadblock.
"And then he said if ever you've been drinking and driving and get into an accident, you should leave your licence at the scene of the accident and if you're close to home or close to a bar, you should go and take a few shots and then return to the scene."
Rough said Robinson said doing that would make it difficult for police to prove if a driver drank before or after a crash.
Robinson's lawyer challenged the witness's testimony, suggesting she was influenced by media coverage of what police said Robinson told officers at the scene.