Former Surrey RCMP constable Dario Devic, who pleaded guilty to breach of public trust after getting caught up in a Surrey Creep Catcher sting in Whalley in 2016, told his presiding judge “I’m truly and deeply sorry I have put myself in this situation and everybody around me.”
“The community expects the best from all police officers,” he said, tearing up. “It is not easy to deal with what has happened.”
The Crown is seeking a one-year conditional sentence order (CSO) for the former cop while the defence is seeking a conditional discharge.
A CSO is typically house arrest and a conditional discharge is when an individual isn’t sentenced for a crime unless another is committed within a certain time period.
“I have always been proud to be a Mountie,” Devic told the court, adding his actions should not reflect on other police officers, whom he’s proud to have served with. “They also deserve an apology for my behaviour.”
Devic pleaded guilty last month. He was in Surrey provincial court Tuesday and Judge James Sutherland is reserved his decision to mid-October and expects it will take about an hour and a half to deliver.
The judge heard submissions from Crown prosecutor Lauren Chu and defence lawyer Rishi Gill on Tuesday.
Gill said his client “has been vilified in a justifiable way” and “he is here to accept the consequences.” The lawyer took aim at Surrey Creep Catchers who “generated this incident” and maintains “they have to have some accountability here.”
Devic was arrested on Sept. 9, 2016 after Surrey Creep Catchers, a citizen group that aims to weed out “potential predators” and “blast” them in social media, did a sting outside a local mall.
The court heard a 30-year-old woman, Danielle Van Vliet, working with Surrey Creep Catchers, placed a “personals” ad on Craigslist — Vancouver, BC >Delta/Surrey/Langley>Personals>Women Seeking Women, titled “Summer Fun (Surrey), with the message “hey!!!! this summer has been super boring and im (sic) looking to meet someone cool to hang out in the sun with,” with a photo of Van Vliet — aka “Candace” — with her age being listed as 18.
Surrey Creep Catchers is a vigilante citizen’s group that aims to weed out “potential predators” and “blast” them in social media. The court heard Van Vliet posed as a 15-year-old girl and communicated with Devic online after posting her bogus Craigslist ad. A meeting was set up outside the Boston Pizza at Surrey Central Shopping Mall in Whalley for Sept. 7 and Devic and Van Vliet met at about 9:15 p.m. Surrey Creep Catchers Surrey president Ryan LaForge and his crew live-streamed the sting on the Internet. Devic ran away.
Defence lawyer Rishi Gill heading into Surrey provincial court. His client Dario Devic, a former Surrey RCMP constable, is appearing this morning on a breach of trust charge. #surreybc pic.twitter.com/WKKgzNGPyx
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) September 11, 2018
So now speakers are on in courtroom. Crown is seeking one year conditional sentence order for breach of trust, for former Surrey RCMP constable Dario Devic. A CSO is typically house arrest. #SurreyBC
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) September 11, 2018
At that time the Surrey RCMP received an anonymous report that Creep Catchers had posted on Facebook that they’d caught a police officer trying to meet up with an underaged girl. Police located Devic at 1:30 a.m. and drove him home. He was arrested the next day.
Devic had worked on the crash team since February 2016 and was required to be “on call” to respond to traffic crashes. On Sept. 7 he finished his shift at 9 pm. and was scheduled to be on call until 8 a.m. the next day.
The court heard that on Sept. 9, 2016, Devic was suspended from the RCMP, which then launched a code of conduct investigation “based on allegations that Mr. Devi had pursued a sexual, intimate or romantic relationship with an underage female, contrary to Section 7.1 of the Code of Conduct, and that he used his position as a police officer for personal reasons in pursuing a sexual, intimate, or romantic relationship with an underage female, contrary to Section 3.2 of the Code of Conduct.”
On April 20, 2018, Devic was “medically discharged” from the RCMP. After that, the force dropped the code of code investigation against him because it lost jurisdiction over him because he was no longer a Mountie, the court heard. In August Devic pleaded guilty to one count of breach of public trust.
The court heard Devic, who had worked as a constable on the Surrey RCMP Criminal Crash Investigation Team, and Van Vliet had exchanged approximately 200 emails between Aug. 29 to Sept. 7, 2016, exchanging photos as well. Devic called himself “dan donson.”
Chu told the court Devic had sent Van Vliet — aka “Candace” — a “shirtless photo” with the message “Do you like cops?”
When “Candace” told him she was really 15, the court heard, Devic replied “I thought you were 18, are you really 15?”
The prosecutor said he appeared to accept Candace’s claim she was 15 and was “reckless about her age” and had communicated with her about meeting while he was on duty.
“It’s abundantly clear as a police officer that he should have known better,” Chu said.
Devic’s lawyer Rishi Gill told the court his client is no pedophile.
“At no point did he actually believe this person was under 16,” Gill said, with Devic basing this on her representation in emails, pictures and “his investigation into some of her assertions.”
Gill asked the judge to make an order that the photos they shared be released to the media, and neither Sutherland or Chu objected. “I think it’s appropriate these pictures be released,” Gill said. He said he would present in court “numerous letters of reference from friends and family” that would prove “illuminating.”
“Mr. Devic had a very serious error in judgment,” he conceded, but added, “There’s no risk of future offences.”
Meantime, the Crown in its submission asked for a DNA sample from Devic and that he be subject to a 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. curfew, perform 100 hours community service and pay a $200 victim surcharge.
The court proceedings continue.