KELOWNA, B.C. — A former Kamloops, B.C., sheriff has been sentenced to one year of house arrest, after a vigilante group caught him attempting to arrange a sexual encounter with someone pretending to be a 14-year-old girl.
A provincial court judge heard that 50-year-old Kevin Johnston was caught up in a sting by Creep Catchers, a group of citizens that attempts to catch alleged sex offenders.
The court heard that Johnston believed he was communicating with a girl, when in fact it was a woman from the group.
He was arrested in 2016 and charged with telecommunicating to lure a child under 16, making sexually explicit material available to a child under 16, arranging a sexual offence against a child and breach of trust by a public officer.
Johnston previously pleaded guilty to the breach of trust charge and appeared in the Kelowna court Tuesday for sentencing. The remaining charges against him were dropped.
At the time of the offence, Johnston was working as a deputy sheriff in Kamloops.
He used that position to influence the person he thought to be a teenage girl, B.C. provincial court Judge Michelle Daneliuk said.
"Mr. Johnston intentionally engaged in highly sexualized communications in a manner in which he was ... reckless as to whether the recipient was an adult or a younger person of only 14 years," said Daneliuk.
The judge said Johnston cultivated a friendship with someone who created the persona of an individual who was vulnerable, new to her community, had no friends and was lonely.
The Crown and defence counsel presented a joint submission recommending a 12-month conditional sentence served under house arrest.
Daneliuk accepted the recommendation.
For the first four months of his sentence, Johnston must remain inside his house or on his property 24 hours a day, with several exceptions, the judge said.
He is permitted to leave the house for work or medical emergencies and for the 100 hours of community service that must be completed by Oct. 5, 2019.
Johnston can also go outside for two hours a day in one-hour increments to walk his dog.
For the last eight months of his sentence, Johnston is bound by a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m., except in the case of employment or a medical emergency.
Johnston has good prospects for a full rehabilitation, said Daneliuk.
"Mr. Johnston has demonstrated considerable insight into his offending behaviour and a willingness to take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen in the future."