Note: The following is centered on a case for which the decision was already made and has now been appealed by one of those convicted. Thus, the below description refers only to the case and relevant parties thereof in context of the appeal.
Background: The appellant, Scott Heron, was a police officer with Niagara Regional Police in Ontario. In February, 2012, Mr. Heron was caught in a three year-long heist: smuggling cheese across the border from the U.S. to Canada! The appellant was sentenced to four months in prison for conspiracy involved with smuggling approximately $133,000 worth of cheese, evading approximately $325,000 worth of duty, and breach of trust as a public official (three months for the smuggling conviction and one month for breach of trust). Shortly thereafter, Mr. Heron appealed the decision.
Details: Mr. Heron appealed the trial judge’s decision, not in regard to the smuggling conviction, but only the finding of breach of trust by a public official. The breach of trust conviction was determined, in particular, based on one key factor: the appellant having performed a Canadian Police Information Centre (“CPIC”) check on the license plate of his accomplice, another police officer (the smuggler) on the same day after having been informed that his accomplice thought he was being followed during one of his deliveries.
The appellant argued on appeal that the original verdict was flawed because it assumed there would be only one reason for Mr. Heron to have performed the CIPC check: being to find out whether the smuggling scheme had been compromised and how he may be able to cover his tracks.
Outcome: The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal and confirmed the appellant’s sentences. The Court found that the timing of the CPIC check was simply too significant, especially given that the Applicant put forth no other plausible explanation for the CPIC check. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge on this matter by acknowledging that it would send a discouraging message to the public (that police officers are able to get away with profiting from abuse of their credentials) to decide otherwise.
Curious about the Case? See for yourself: