Fri, October 1, 2004
TORONTO DRUG cop Robert Kelly was told yesterday he must quit or be fired for sharing cocaine with a police informant. Kelly, 38, a well-liked 15-year veteran with an impeccable career record, appeared red-eyed and shaken at Toronto Police headquarters when hearing officer Supt. Tony Warr gave him the ultimate penalty for discreditable conduct.
In a strongly worded judgment, Warr cited the public interest as the primary reason for Kelly's dismissal.
He said the public expects a "higher level of behaviour" from cops.
"The loss of the public trust is the most devastating thing that can happen to a police service," Warr said.
"The Toronto Police Service cannot accept behaviour by their members that jeopardizes that trust."
Kelly's lawyer, Peter Brauti, afterwards slammed Toronto Police management for breaking an earlier promise that Kelly could keep his job if he pleaded guilty to the charges.
'LIFE ON LINE'
"He put his life on the line for the public every day ... and the service has used him up and thrown him away like a piece of garbage," Brauti said. "We haven't seen any integrity come out of this hearing today."
In telling Kelly he had seven days to resign or else be fired, Warr rejected a joint submission by Brauti and Toronto Police's legal branch head Staff Insp. George Cowley that Kelly would keep his job, providing he submit to random drug, medical and psychiatric tests, accept a demotion to the lowest rank and put his future entirely in management's hands.
In a 16-page decision, Warr said he was "not satisfied" when he was first told of the joint position in June, and even after hearing further submissions in July he was still unimpressed.
"I am aware of the impact ... on the willingness of officers to plead guilty to offences in the future," Warr said.
Brauti said any Toronto cop with a drug addiction should "run and hide in your holes ... don't admit a thing."
Kelly was arrested Nov. 16, 2001 by an RCMP-led Toronto Police internal affairs task force after Kelly's drug informant told police that Kelly had allegedly threatened his life over $25,000 he said he had won for Kelly on horse races he knew were likely fixed.
At two earlier meetings that November, the man gave Kelly $5,500 in police sting cash in partial payment for his winnings. At one meeting, Kelly gave the man 3.15 grams of cocaine.
Kelly, who was preparing to do cocaine when he was arrested, was charged with two counts of possessing cocaine for the purposes of trafficking. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession. Criminal trial judge Ian Cowan gave Kelly a suspended sentence, two years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
While Warr said the death of Kelly's father and the loss of a common law relationship may have contributed to his cocaine abuse, it is an explanation, but not an excuse.
Brauti immediately filed an appeal notice.
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino said that Warr "did what he thought he had to do," and he had to support the decision.