A Crown prosecutor called for a five-year prison sentence for two men who attacked an RCMP officer on a rural Red Deer County road and stole her vehicle in 2019.
Johnathan Andrews and Chasetin Morin pleaded guilty to attempting to disarm a police officer and robbery in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench last December for their role in the incident in the early hours of Dec. 13, 2019.
“The circumstances of the offence itself are egregious,” Crown prosecutor Davin Mitchell told Red Deer Court of King’s Bench Justice Gillian Marriott on Tuesday afternoon.
The attack also had a profound impact on the constable involved and affected both her professional and personal life, said Mitchell.
Both men have lengthy criminal records. Morin has more than 40 convictions, including two for assaulting peace officers, as well as convictions on firearms-related charges, fleeing police, dangerous driving, various thefts and more than two dozen for breaching court orders. Andrews, 30, has about 50 adult convictions, including weapons, drugs and driving offences, as well as more than 30 breaches.
Mitchell said the judge should take into account the officer was working alone at night in a remote area when she was attacked by three men. The officer testified in court last December she feared she was going to die in the attack, he said.
RCMP officer Const. Lottie Bell testified she had pulled over to assist three men, whose vehicle was stuck, when she was violently thrown to the ground by Andrews. He and Morin then got on top of the five-foot-two, 130-pound officer and tried to pry her gun out of its holster.
Unable to get her gun, all three ran off and stole her police vehicle, which was parked nearby on Range Road 10 near the Burnt Lake Trail, about 10 km west of Red Deer.
Bell fired at Morin, the driver, as he drove past. Morin was not hit but Bennink was wounded in the calf. Andrews was hit in the foot, but the bullet did not penetrate his skin. A round hit the front windshield of her vehicle as it sped off.
The police vehicle ran off the road soon after and the three men were tracked down by a police dog and arrested nearby.
Bennink pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and robbery in November 2021 and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Maurice Collard, defence lawyer for Morin, said two years was a “fit and proper sentence” for his client, noting he pleaded guilty and is remorseful.
Morin had a traumatic childhood, left home at 16 and struggled with addictions for most of his life. All his problems can be traced to his substance abuse.
“When he’s sober, he has a heart of gold,” said Collard, who said his client has sought treatment for his issues, including being diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder.
Andrews’s lawyer, Lonnie Allen, was seeking a similar sentence for his client.
Allen said while Andrews’s record is lengthy, his offences were not violent, and he has enrolled in treatment programs to turn his life around, including paying out of his own pocket for an additional six months of treatment.
He is very remorseful for his role in the attack on the officer, which was not a premeditated plan.
“This was a dynamic situation that unfolded on the side of the road,” said Allen.
Allen asked that Andrews be given credit for about 882 days in custody using a formula taking into account 372 days in custody and 649 days on release with strict conditions.
The judge will announce her sentence on Oct. 3.