A White Rock man who pleaded guilty to trafficking marijuana while on duty as a Vancouver police officer apologized this week, as his sentencing hearing concluded in Vancouver Provincial Court.
“I would like to offer my sincere apology to my wife and children, who I have let down, and also to my family and friends,” Peter Hodson said Tuesday before a courtroom packed with more than 30 supporters.
“I offer a sincere and public apology to the VPD, specificially to my partners on the squad. I’m sorry for my actions and take full responsibility for them.”
Hodson, 32, pleaded guilty to the trafficking charge – along with two counts of breach of trust – last November, eight months after he was arrested at Vancouver Police Department’s Cambie Street headquarters.
His arrest followed a two-month investigation into allegations that a constable was selling street-level amounts of marijuana both on- and off-duty.
Both Crown counsel Joe Bellows and Hodson’s lawyer, Vincent Michaels, wrapped up their submissions before Judge Gregory Rideout during the day’s proceedings.
While Michaels is seeking a conditional sentence for Hodson, Rideout suggested the outcome is unlikely.
Rideout acknowledged Hodson’s previously clean record, as well as the “impressive” reference letters from family and friends, would be taken into consideration in sentencing. He noted, however, the optics of a VPD officer selling marijuana in the drug-riddled Downtown Eastside, where police deal with addiction and mental-health issues on a daily basis, were “disturbing.”
“That is one of the troubling features that struck me from the beginning,” Rideout said. “I can’t ignore the fact that, at some time, he engaged in this activity while in uniform and armed.”
Rideout said there are a “constellation of factors” to be weighed in deciding if Hodson should face jail time, or be granted a conditional sentence. The latter would be a more likely option had Hodson been a civilian at the time of the offences, he said.
“One big, booming factor that says a (conditional sentence) does not apply is the fact that he was a cop on duty,” he said.
Earlier this month, Rideout heard testimony from Dr. Michael Elterman, a psychologist hired by the defence to perform an evaluation of Hodson’s mental state.
Elterman concluded that Hodson exhibited narcissistic tendencies and anti-social behaviour, and that he engaged in criminal activities as a way of creating excitement for himself.
Tuesday, Bellows asked Rideout to place little weight on Elterman’s testimony, saying the doctor wasn’t sufficiently qualified to provide expert evidence in this type of case, and that he didn’t properly inform himself of all the details of Hodson’s charges.
Bellows also noted a disconnect between Hodson’s personality assessment, which indicated anti-social and egomaniacal behaviour, and several reference letters from his family and friends, which spoke positively of his character.
“It is remarkable that (Elterman) prefer the conclusion of an inventory, rather than the opinions of his own family and friends,” Bellows said.
Michaels detailed Hodson’s accomplished athletic career – including his years as a basketball star at White Rock Christian Academy – his heavy involvement with family and church, and two charitable organizations he founded over the years prior to his arrest.
He noted the father of four young children began “spiraling out of control” in 2009, engaging in heavy drinking and infidelity, which lead to a temporary separation from his wife, Sarah, and eventually, his drug-dealing offences.
Since his arrest, Michaels said Hodson has reconciled with his family and accepted full responsibility for his actions.
“He is more than what occurred on 10 occasions over four months,” Michaels said. “There is acknowledgment, insight and remorse, and a real opportunity for Mr. Hodson’s rehabilitation and redemption.”
Speaking to reporters outside court, Hodson again apologized to his wife, family and the VPD and reiterated that he has taken full responsibility for his actions.
When asked how he thought his more positive accomplishments would affect the judge’s decision, Hodson said he would let them speak for themselves.
“I’m not coming out here to toot my own horn,” he said. “I live my life, and I’ve done good things and I’ve done bad things, and it’s a matter of getting them sorted out.”
Rideout is expected to deliver his sentence Sept. 22.
Bellows is seeking a 3½-year jail term for Hodson, while Michaels is recommending a conditional sentence comprised of two years of house arrest – one without exceptions and one served in the community with a strict curfew – followed by three years of probation.