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News Report

Conviction Upheld of Former Police Officer

Saskatoon Queen's Bench Court upheld the impaired driving conviction of Insp. Allan Stickney. Judge Acton granted the defence bid to exclude Korchinski's testimony, but said sufficient evidence remained from the rookie arresting officers to sustain the lower court's decision. Stickney evaded a professional standards review by retiring from the Saskatoon Police Force.

Insp. Al Stickney
Insp. Allan Stickney QB Court upheld the impaired driving conviction of this former Saskatoon Police officer. Stickney surrendered his driver's licence and paid a $690 fine and victim surcharge. He did an end run around the pending Internal Affairs inquiry by resigning from the force.

SASKATOON  —   The conviction of a now-retired Saskatoon police inspector who had care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired was upheld upon appeal earlier this year.

Al Stickney was an inspector with the Saskatoon Police Service on July 28, 2007, when two constables observed him and another man “stumbling and staggering” as they crossed the street toward a parked van after leaving Lydia's pub on Broadway Avenue around closing time.

Stickney was convicted in November 2008 after a trial and was fined $690. He appealed the conviction, arguing the trial judge made a finding of fact that was not supported by the evidence.

Justice Murray Acton of the Court of Queen's Bench found in a decision handed down in July that the trial judge did not make any palpable and overriding errors with findings of fact.

“There was sufficient evidence before the learned trial judge, even with (Sgt. Tim Korchinski's) evidence excluded, to support the trial judge's decision,” Acton wrote.

Korchinski's actions that night negated the evidence he later gave against Stickney, Acton says in his decision.

Two arresting officers, rookie constables who did not recognize Stickney at the time, testified during his trial that he and his friend appeared extremely drunk as they walked to the van.

The arrest was cut short when Korchinski, a senior officer, arrived at the scene as backup. Korchinski “unarrested” Stickney and told the constables he was using “officer discretion” to take Stickney home in a marked cruiser.

Korchinski reported the incident to the police service's professional standards division the following day and, after further investigation, the case was referred to justice officials for advice, which resulted in the criminal charge against Stickney.

Korchinski was initially suspended with pay alongside Stickney, under suspicion of interfering with an investigation. He was reinstated after an internal review cleared him of wrongdoing.

He later testified he took his superior officer home in order to avoid tying up scarce police resources at a busy time.

During Stickney's trial, longtime friend and co-worker Insp. Doug Wylie said he was with Stickney and another friend for most of the night, and each of them had consumed six pints of beer – equivalent to 10 bottles – as well as a shot of tequila before he left and took a cab home.

Stickney did not testify at his trial. His lawyer, Jay Watson, argued the arresting constables did not have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest him – an assertion Judge Violet Meekma rejected based on the officers' descriptions he and his friend had been “swaying” and “staggering” before they got to the van.

Meekma upheld a defence application to exclude evidence from a conversation Korchinski had with Stickney in the back of his cruiser on the way home, on the basis Stickney's rights were not read to him and he was technically under arbitrary detention at the time.

However, Meekma rejected a defence bid to exclude Korchinski's observations of Stickney – a strong smell of alcohol, slow walk and speech – as evidence in the case.

The same observations would likely have been made by the rookie constables if Korchinski had not stepped in and reversed their arrest, the judge noted.

“Because of his intervention, the officers were thwarted from obtaining further evidence themselves,” Meekma wrote.

She found excluding the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Acton, however, ruled that decision was in error.

“Inspector Stickney had the right to expect that after his ‘unarrest’ and being placed in the police care for the ‘ride home’ evidence obtained during that period would not be used against him,” Acton found.

Stickney avoided the internal police discipline process by retiring from the force.

Saskatchewan: Full Court Rulings

R. v. Stickney, 2008 SKPC 152
Saskatchewan Provincial Court / Judge V.H. Meekma / Conviction

R. v. Stickney, 2009 SKQB 282
Saskatchewan Queen's Bench Court / Judge M.D. Action / Appeal: Conviction Upheld