Junkie cop 'fit for duty'

Wed, July 28, 2004

A TORONTO drug cop who was suspended after becoming a cocaine addict shouldn't lose his job, a police tribunal hearing heard yesterday. In a joint submission, the prosecution and defence said Robert Kelly is fit for duty even though he pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing cocaine.

Kelly was arrested in a Nov. 16, 2001 sting set up by an RCMP-led special task force probing drug squad corruption.

Kelly, 38, was given a suspended sentence, two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in March on the cocaine charges.

To keep his job, Kelly would agree to 14 conditions that include random drug tests for the rest of his career, a demotion and desk duty where he wouldn't carry a gun.

"The joint submission is a very close step away from dismissal -- it's not just a wrap on the knuckles," prosecutor Staff Insp. George Cowley said.

The defence said Kelly's spiral into disgrace was the result of a string of tragic events including the death of his father, his partner being shot on duty, and the breakup of his nine-year common-law relationship.

"He developed a post-traumatic stress disorder and was self medicating himself (with cocaine). The addiction was job related ... he wasn't indulging in a narcotic for pleasure," defence lawyer Peter Brauti said.

Brauti also said Kelly had asked for transfers out of the drug squad on three occasions.

"The rule of thumb is three years is the maximum length of time to be on the drug squad. (Kelly) was there five years. He was told he was too valuable and couldn't be replaced. The length of his tenure added to his problems," Brauti said.

Outside the tribunal, Brauti said Kelly may have a civil case against the police.

A ruling is set for Sept. 30.