Court denies RNC officer’s request for pay awaiting sexual assault retrial

Judge Robert Stack did not give Const. Doug Snelgrove the decision he was looking for, but Stack did accept part of the officer’s argument. 

Snelgrove asked the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court to determine Royal Newfoundland Constabulary chiefs Bill Janes and Joe Boland were unreasonable to suspend him without pay before he’s been found guilty of any alleged misconduct. 

“The chief must balance the interests of the officer, the RNC, and the public. Suspending an officer without pay should be the exception, not the norm,” Stack noted in his May 15 decision. 

He said the key factor in whether the decision is unreasonable is if the chief decides the officer is guilty of wrongdoing prior to the court or public complaint process being completed. 

Stack determined Janes had in fact suspended Snelgrove without pay unreasonably, “because he found the applicant guilty of misconduct on the public complaint and so the decision is not justified in relation to the relevant factual and legal constraints that bear on it.”

A crowd of about 100 people gather outside RNC headquarters in St. John’s to protest Const. Doug Snelgrove in February 2017. (Jen White/CBC)

However, Stack found Boland’s decision on the matter “bears the hallmarks of reasonableness — justification, transparency and intelligibility” and is justified within the constraints. 

Boland took over from Janes in July 2017. 

Awaiting retrial

Snelgrove has been suspended without pay since July 2015, when Janes made the decision as a sexual assault charge was filed against Snelgrove and a public complaint about the same incident had been made that February. 

The officer is accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman when she was intoxicated and he was in uniform in December 2014. He was acquitted on Feb. 24, 2017, which garnered public outcry and protests. 

The Crown subsequently won an appeal of that decision, and Snelgrove lost his appeal of the appellate court’s ruling. Both courts agreed the trial judge had erred in giving instructions to the jury.

Stack said there is no merit to two other claims put forward in Snelgrove’s application — that his suspension without pay amounts to dismissal and that it’s not fair he remains a police officer subject to the RNC’s rules and the oath he swore. 

Snelgrove’s jury retrial on the sexual assault charge was scheduled for March 2020, but will be rescheduled as the court works through COVID-19 measures. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Court denies RNC officer’s request for pay awaiting sexual assault retrial

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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