A former Kamloops deputy sheriff caught in a 2016 Creep Hunters sting will serve a one-year conditional sentence with four months house arrest.
Kevin Johnston, 50, was arrested after he travelled to Kelowna from his then home in Kamloops to attempt to arrange a potential sexual encounter with someone posing online as a 14-year-old girl.
He will serve his sentence at his home on Vancouver Island, where he now lives.
The sentence, for one count of breach of trust by a peace officer, was handed down Tuesday in Kelowna provincial court by judge Michelle Daneliuk and came after lengthy negotiations between Crown and defence lawyers.
Three original charges of communicating with a person believed to be underage for the purpose of facilitating a sexual offence, as well as one count of invitation to sexual touching, were dropped. In the end, he pleaded guilty to breach of trust by a peace officer in connection with his high-profile arrest in 2016 in Kelowna following a vigilante sting operation.
Outside court, Johnston’s lawyer Jeremy Jansen said the decision was expected given that it was a joint submission by defence lawyers and Crown Counsel.
“He’s pleased to have this behind,” said Jansen of his client, noting Johnston plead guilty to just single lesser count charge, not to any sexual charges.
“Those were all dropped,” he added.
Johnston was employed in Kamloops as a deputy with the B.C. Sheriff Service when he was arrested.
According to an earlier agreed statement of facts filed in court, Johnston began communicating online with an adult woman portraying herself as a teenager as part of a vigilante group, Creep Hunters, aimed at exposing potential sexual predators online.
“In the month of August 2016, at a time when he was serving as a sheriff, Mr. Johnston engaged in a series of communications with Jennifer Carter,” the document states. “Those communications are the subject matter of the case before the court. Mr. Johnston engaged in those communications while off-duty, but invoked his status as a sheriff and peace officer.”
According to the document, Carter was portraying a girl named “Steph” when she began communicating with Johnston.
“In those communications, Mr. Johnston turned the conversation to sex,” the agreed statement of facts reads. “He sent two pictures of his penis and a full-frontal nude shot to Steph. He told her that he was a sheriff in Kamloops and sent photographs of himself in uniform and pictures of himself in the locker room at work.”
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