A Mountie in Surrey, B.C., who abused his authority to conduct sexual relationships with two vulnerable women has been sentenced to 18 months of house arrest.
Surrey Provincial Court Judge Grace Oh gave RCMP Cpl. Peter Leckie a conditional sentence Tuesday, to be followed by one year of probation, in relation to the disgraced officer's guilty pleas to three breaches of public trust.
The sentence was the result of a joint submission by the Crown and Leckie's lawyer. Oh said her job was to decide whether accepting the deal would throw the justice system into disrepute.
"I can find that a jail sentence is clearly necessary," Oh concluded after detailing a lengthy analysis of Leckie's crimes and the case for and against hard jail time.
She noted that a conditional sentence order — or CSO — is considered a "jail sentence to be served in the community," with the threat of prison "looming" over Leckie should he disobey any of the dozens of conditions accompanying his sentence.
"A conditional sentence order here does not compromise the public safety," Oh said. "It is unlikely that Mr. Leckie will re-offend."
Breach of trust
Leckie, 38, pleaded guilty last October to three breaches of public trust.
One count involved his use of a police database to query a 19-year-old sex worker and sex-assault victim whose father had been murdered. Leckie also queried the woman's mother before contacting them both on what he claimed was police business.
The judge who sentenced Leckie said his actions also brought the RCMP into disrepute, undermining the actions of honest colleagues. (Nic Amaya/CBC)
He began a sexual relationship with the 19-year-old, taking pictures of her that she later used to advertise sexual services. He lied to his supervisors about the reasons he was at her residence.
Another of the charges related to Leckie's deliberate contact with a woman who had been the subject of a wellness check. They also began a sexual relationship, and he used police databases to pass her information about a friend's death and her brother. Oh said the woman's ex-husband was a member of the Hells Angels.
The third count of public trust concerned the more than 100 times Leckie improperly used police databases to access confidential information during his relationships with both women.
The judge said the bar to reject a joint submission is very high — in order to toss the deal, she would have had to conclude that a conditional sentence would be contrary to the public interest or throw the administration of the justice into disrepute.
'The depth of his remorse is limited'
Oh said Leckie's abuse of his position was an aggravating factor, as was the impact on the victims, who spoke in court about their shaken faith in police.
The judge said the Langley, B.C., man had worked with the RCMP's community-based mental health team and was aware of the vulnerability of his victims and the potential impact of his actions.
The hallway outside the courtrooms in Surrey's provincial courthouse is shown in a file photo. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)
"This was not a matter of a momentary lapse," Oh said. "It was not spontaneous or thoughtless."
Leckie is married and has a young son.
Family members and RCMP colleagues entered letters of support in testimony of Leckie's character at his sentencing hearing last month, all mitigating factors.
Oh said she didn't doubt the sincerity of his loved ones and workmates.
"But the reality is that for over half of his RCMP career, he was breaching the public's trust," the judge said.
She also said while Leckie expressed regret for his actions in a teary reading of a letter of apology, he failed to express insight or appreciation for the suffering of his victims.
"The depth of his remorse is limited," Oh said.
Ultimately, the judge said she felt the public's need for denunciation and deterrence would be met by the 18-month sentence to be served under electronic monitoring at Leckie's condominium.
The conditions on his confinement will ease over time — with the final six months of the sentence to be served as a curfew.
Leckie joined the Surrey RCMP in 2010.
He is currently suspended from the force, awaiting the outcome of a disciplinary process that will likely result in his dismissal.
Victim files lawsuit
Last week one of his victims filed a lawsuit against Leckie and the provincial Ministry of Public Safety in B.C. Supreme Court, seeking damages for sexual assault and fraud.
Her lawyer, Jason Gratl, told CBC News that his client "is dismayed that the depth of premeditated deceitful exploitation is not reflected in jail time, and is determined to pursue civil remedies."
In a notice of civil claim, the woman accuses Leckie of using his authority to "enhance his power over her and increase his esteem and virtue" in her eyes.
"His purpose in doing so was to trick [her] into allowing him into her home, provide him personal information about her physical and mental health and engage in sexual contact with him," the lawsuit reads.
"[She] never would have allowed Cpl. Leckie into her home, told him private information, or had sexual contact with him if he had not made those misrepresentations."
Leckie has not responded to the claim, and his criminal defence lawyer declined to comment.