The man who fatally struck a West Shore RCMP officer in 2016 has been granted limited day parole to attend alcohol abuse treatment.
In July of 2017, Kenneth Jacob Fenton was sentenced to four years in prison after he killed Cst. Sarah Beckett in an impaired driving crash in Langford in 2016.
Following his first parole hearing in Abbotsford Monday morning, Fenton will be allowed to attend a treatment centre in the Fraser Valley for 70 days, after which he will return to prison where a parole board will reassess his status.
Fenton told a parole board panel that driving drunk was the “most devastating decision” he has ever made and he understands it’s unfair that he’s still here while an “innocent mother” can’t go home to her children.
Parole Board of Canada member Catherine Dawson told Fenton that he still struggles with being honest and she’s concerned that it took him so long to realize that he’s an alcoholic.
Fenton’s limited day parole comes with many conditions. He cannot consume any drugs or alcohol, drive a registered vehicle, visit Vancouver Island, or contact Beckett’s family.
He also must report all intimate and non-intimate relationships with women to his parole officer and attend one-on-one counselling.
Beckett’s husband, Bradley Aschenbrenner, says he didn’t know that the parole hearing was happening. He said he only found out it was happening the night before when he got a phone call from media Sunday night.
“I have a really sour taste in my mouth about the parole board now,” he said Monday. “I never missed a court date … and I didn’t intend to miss this one. But I didn’t know about this.”
Victims are allowed to register with the Parole Board where they will be notified of any scheduled hearings, decisions, and are given the opportunity to submit statements and observe the hearings. In a statement, the Parole Board said the “cannot confirm whether or not the Board has been in touch with a specific victim.”
Ashenbrenner also questioned why Fenton can’t receive treatment in prison, rather than being allowed outside to seek the help.
“I don’t understand why he needs to be let out in the general public … Why don’t they bring [professional help] inside?” he said. “If I would’ve been notified about this, I would’ve gone to the meeting and expressed the exact same thing.”
Fenton has already completed a treatment program inside Matsqui Prison and has begun the same program a second time.
His parole officer told the board he believes Fenton would benefit from further treatment only available outside of the prison.
Fenton was driving between 76 to 90 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone, and his blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when he fatally struck Beckett, an 11-year veteran of the RCMP just returning from maternity leave.
The court heard that he was speeding away from another police cruiser that had just turned on its lights to pull him over seconds before the crash.
Fenton is also serving an additional 18 months in prison for a second drunk driving crash, just over a month after the crash that killed Beckett.
On May 22, 2016, police discovered a green 1997 Chevy pickup truck that had rolled over on Goldstream Heights Drive in the Malahat area. Two people were inside, including Fenton. Fenton pleaded guilty to two charges including driving over .08 and one count of causing an accident resulting in bodily harm to the passenger in the vehicle.
Court heard at the time of the crash, Fenton was driving over 120 kilometres per hour and had a blood alcohol concentration of nearly three times the legal amount.
With files from the Canadian Press and CBC.