The “shocking” actions of a former Vancouver police officer who sold marijuana while on duty deserve severe punishment, said a judge who handed down a three-year prison sentence Thursday.
Peter Andrew Hodson, 32, was caught last year selling drugs during an elaborate undercover police operation.
“Your remarkable fall from grace is a burden that will stay with you for life,” Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Gregory Rideout told Hodson before sheriffs handcuffed him and led him away to begin serving his sentence.
Hodson, who had been an officer since 2006, pleaded guilty last November to drug trafficking and three counts of breach of trust, including one count for improperly accessing a police computer database known as PRIME.
Prosecutor Joe Bellows had asked Rideout to impose a 3.5-year sentence on Hodson, who was fired after he was arrested.
Defence lawyer Vince Michaels asked that Hodson serve his time under house arrest so he can provide for his wife and four children.
The judge found a conditional sentence was inappropriate.
“In this case, the accused became completely disengaged from his moral and ethical duty to protect and serve,” the judge concluded.
“The accused used his badge and his uniform to avoid detection and to promote the perpetration of his drug trafficking.”
He said the message must be sent that police officers who knowingly engage in criminal activity should be severely punished.
“The accused knowingly embarked upon his predatory criminal activities with his eyes wide open,” the judge said. “He must have clearly appreciated the potential for serious consequences for his conduct.”
While acknowledging that Hodson had done a lot of volunteer work in his community and relatives offered glowing letters of support, the judge found that Hodson committed his crimes for profit and thrill-seeking
The court was told that at the time Hodson began selling pot on the job, he was married with three children and had another on the way. He was also having two affairs. His wife had learned about them and kicked Hodson out of the family home, so he was experiencing financial difficulties.
A psychologist who interviewed Hodson several times told the court that Hodson found police work boring, and sought excitement on the job through risk-taking.
The judge told Hodson that the people of Vancouver and the police department were also victims of his illegal actions.
The judge sentenced Hodson to two years in jail for the drug trafficking, another two years concurrent for the breach of trust in failing in his duty as a police officer, and an additional one year for breach of trust related to improper use of the PRIME police computer. Hodson had used it to check up on Tyson Pappas, a crack addict resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, who was recruited by Hodson to sell drugs.
Hodson gave Pappas scales and zip-lock bags and suggested the dealer get business cards to increase profits.
The judge noted that DTES residents are particularly vulnerable and deserving of police protection.
The judge also imposed a 10-year firearms ban.
During an undercover operation, police observed Hodson buying and selling drugs using another accomplice, Oscar Lapitan, who also pleaded guilty and received a one-year conditional sentence.
Before Hodson’s arrest in April last year, he made a deal with an undercover officer to supply half a pound of pot every Friday for $1,500.
– Article originally from The Vancouver Sun.