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Appeal denied for former Corner Brook RNC officer Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is seen in the Corner Brook courtroom in this file photo.
Sean Kelly is seen in a Corner Brook courtroom in this file photo. - SaltWire File Photo

Disgraced former police officer, Sean Kelly, has begun serving the 10-month prison sentence originally given to him four years ago.

Kelly was convicted in February 2015 following his trial for making obscene phone calls and mischief and was sentenced by Judge Wayne Gorman later that spring.

However, Kelly spent just a few hours in custody before being released, pending appeals of both the convictions and the sentence.

Kelly lost his first appeal in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, when Justice David Hurley upheld the convictions and sentencing in September 2017.

Kelly and his lawyer, Robby Ash, then filed an appeal of the Hurley’s decision in the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.

The appeal court heard the latest arguments in November and, last week, decided to uphold the Hurley’s decision not to strike Gorman’s original convictions.

According to Crown attorney Sheldon Steeves, who successfully argued the most recent proceedings in the appeal court, Kelly turned himself in to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in Corner Brook to start serving his sentence Monday morning.

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Kelly had reported to the same RNC headquarters in Corner Brook for 11 years before being charged in March 2013 with the offences that took place in 2012. During the trial, Gorman had heard how Kelly used his police-issued cellphone, while he was on duty, to call a woman and make sexually explicit remarks to her.

The court heard the phone call was particularly disturbing for the woman as the caller referenced he knew she was alone and what she was wearing at the time of the call.

The mischief charge involved Kelly trying to shift the subsequent blame for the phone call to a police informant he was working with, saying the informant had borrowed the cellphone on the day the obscene call to the woman was made.

The court heard this caused tremendous concern for the informant as he felt endangered from being potentially exposed as someone working with the police.

In addition to arguing that the Supreme Court had drawn inappropriate conclusions that should not have supported the convictions, Kelly argued that, should he be acquitted of the mischief charge only, then he should be eligible to serve the four months he was given for the obscene phone call on house arrest.

The Court of Appeal not only concluded that the provincial and Supreme Court judges were right in endorsing Kelly’s convictions and sentencing, but that Kelly should not be allowed to serve the sentence in the community on house arrest.

“The facts and circumstances of Mr. Kelly’s obscene phone call offence … demonstrate shameful on-duty conduct warranting a period of incarceration,” wrote Justice Lois Hoegg in the appeal court’s recent decision. “The facts and circumstances of Mr. Kelly’s conviction for mischief demonstrate more shameful conduct.”

The fact these offences were committed by an on-duty police officer is what makes them so egregious, said Hoegg.

“Mr. Kelly’s conduct, by any measure, did involve abuse of his position as a police officer and breach of the public trust placed in him,” she said. “The actions underlying his mischief conviction are reprehensible in and of themselves, as well as antithetical to his duties and responsibilities to society as a police officer.”

Kelly’s legal troubles are not over yet. He still has an outstanding charge of making indecent calls involving a different victim than the one he’s been convicted of calling.

Although that matter has been called at provincial court in Corner Brook several times, it has repeatedly been set over, pending the outcomes of the appeal.

The matter is set to next be called at provincial court in Corner Brook for a status update June 11.

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