Kenneth Bryan, former political assistant to Premier Alden McLaughlin, was placed on probation for one year on Wednesday after Magistrate Philippa McFarlane said charges of disorderly conduct and assaulting police had been proven against him.
However, after hearing mitigation from defense attorney Karin Thompson, the magistrate dealt with the matter under the Alternative Sentencing Law. She said she would not proceed to conviction, but would place Bryan on probation for one year and order him to pay $100 in costs for each day of his trial – $400 in total. She gave him three months to pay.
Bryan was charged after an incident outside Dream Night Club in the early hours of Oct. 11, 2014. He pleaded not guilty and maintained that he had been trying to assist police who had broken up a fight between two men.
The magistrate said Bryan had perceived that officers were arresting the wrong man while the man who had caused the initial problem had got away; that perception was wrong.
The magistrate commended Bryan for his response to the situation that started the incident. He had felt compelled to come to the assistance of a woman in distress. Once the woman was safely away from the scene and not in danger, Bryan could have also walked away, she said.
The man who had caused the distress fought with a man who came to assist Bryan. While police were dealing with the matter, Bryan tried to approach the officer he thought was senior. Another officer stopped Bryan. “They got off on the wrong foot and the matter quickly and unnecessarily escalated,” the magistrate said.
Even if the manner in which the officer was speaking caused Bryan to be upset, the officer was acting in the execution of his duty, she pointed out. She believed that Bryan was upset at being told to mind his own business and let police do their job.
It was plain to her that Bryan went too far in using “abusive and calumnious language that would tend to provoke a breach of the peace.” Several officers gave evidence that they heard him use the F-word in a variety of contexts; even the phrase Bryan admitted using was one he could be charged for, she indicated.
The magistrate repeated what Crown counsel Scott Wainwright had emphasized – that assaulting police does not necessarily mean making physical contact with an officer. It is enough to take some action that makes the officer believe he is about to be assaulted or attacked. That is what she found Bryan had done.
Police may not always handle things in the ideal way, but in the heat of the moment they are doing their best, she pointed out. Bryan could have stayed out of the way and then gone to the police station to make a witness statement, she said.
Ms. Thompson had asked for no conviction to be recorded against Bryan because “This is a case in which he has already paid an extremely high price” financially, personally and professionally. He had lost his job as the premier’s assistant and had been able to secure only part-time employment since.
Bryan had been a candidate in the 2013 elections and before that was a TV news reporter, but “There is no certainty he will get back to where he was before the incident,” Ms. Thompson said. She handed up numerous character references.
Bryan, who is now a radio talk-show host, also spoke, thanking the magistrate for her patience and apologizing for what happened. He said it was never his intention to break the laws of this country; he was sorry to have wasted the taxpayers’ money on his trial and was willing to pay the costs.