Kelowna: RCMP officer gets conditional discharge for beating wife
A RCMP corporal appeared in the Kelowna courts Monday and was given a conditional discharge for punching his common-law wife in the face and back of the head, sending her to hospital.
The case originated in 100 Mile House but was moved to Kelowna, as per the decision of the 100 Mile House court registry and judges, as the town is extremely small and the officer a member of its law enforcement team.
Cpl. John Lyons entered a plea of guilty to the charge of assault causing bodily harm in relation to an incident at a December 2012 party in which he walked in on his wife and her personal trainer kissing and wound up punching both in the head.
"It wasn't planned, really spontaneous, it just kind of happened," Crown counsel Lorne Fisher told the judge as he explained how the evening, and the kiss in particular, resulted in such violence.
Lyons is a 12 year veteran of the force and on the evening in question he accompanied his live-in partner of five years to a party in 108 Mile House where he spent most of the night watching UFC fights with party-goers in the basement, while she socialized with her trainer in the kitchen upstairs.
Lyons and his wife were said to be having marital difficulties at the time and a statement mentioned in court suggests she felt he was smothering her during the course of the night.
She separated herself from him, choosing to retire to the kitchen where a few flirtations became a spontaneous kiss Lyons happened to witness as he walked upstairs.
The officer is said to have levelled the personal trainer with one blow and then turned on his wife. He punched her twice in the face and three times in the back of the head, splitting her head open.
She bled heavily, but the gash was repaired with glue at the hospital and did not require stitches. She did incur a sizeable bump described as a goose egg, and a black eye.
Despite the severity of the incident, Judge Ellen Burdett determined the officer should be allowed to proceed with his career as a police officer and will not have a criminal record, provided he meets several conditions laid out for him over the course of the next year.
Her leniency hinged on the years of service he gave the community, as an officer and volunteer coach, as she appeared to accept the Crown and defence lawyers' contention this is a man of good character who ultimately made an egregious, one-off mistake.
For the next year, Lyons is thus banned from returning to 100 Mile House, drinking alcohol or seeing the three children he served as step-father to, except as directed by a family court order.
The judge noted she was very disturbed by the events which followed the assault, though the incident was not the matter being addressed in court.
The officer apparently landed his blows then drove to the home the pair shared where he drank more alcohol; wrecked his wife's clothes, jewelry and dresser; dumped out all of her wine; broke the bottles and more glass in the home; and destroyed most of the photos of the couple. He did not maim any photos of the children.
"It's a bit alarming that he got in his car and drove, knowing what he does as a police officer," said the judge.
Lyons is a traffic cop and will be transferred from 100 Mile House to Merritt. He has been working in Williams Lake, attending counselling and reporting to a parole officer in the area.
The judge concluded the officer must attend whatever programs his probation officer deems appropriate, in addition to his year-long alcohol ban and restrictions on entering any establishment that sells alcohol, unless conducting police business.
While noting members of the RCMP are human beings who make mistakes, she said the officer was in a position of trust, by virtue of his profession, and that his behaviour does make that profession more difficult to carry out from this point forward.
"It's pretty hard to go and arrest somebody for domestic violence when you yourself have been a perpetrator," she said.
She added she has no doubt the community is well aware of what he has done as news travels fast in towns as small as 100 Mile.