A Durham police officer has been handed a year-long demotion after he admitted to crashing his car on the way home from the bar before reporting it as stolen in an attempt to “evade criminal and civil liability.”

On Feb. 24, Const. Trevor Kathnelson of Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) pleaded guilty to one count of professional misconduct at a disciplinary tribunal hearing presided over by Ontario Provincial Police adjudicator M.P.B. Elders.

Kathnelson was also criminally charged with one count of public mischief, to which he pleaded guilty back in August, in relation with the incident.

According to an Agreed Statement of Facts filed as part of the tribunal proceedings, Kathnelson crashed his pick-up truck in the late afternoon of April 29, 2023 after leaving a bar in Port Hope, Ont.

The documents say Kathnelson, who has been with the service since 2002, consumed two alcoholic beverages at the establishment with a friend before offering them a ride home.

After dropping his passenger off, Kathnelson crashed his truck in the area of Ontario and Molson streets and drove the “heavily” damaged vehicle to a nearby gas station, according to the statement.

There, he left his vehicle and ran to a nearby hotel, where he called his friend and asked him to pick him up, it continues.

In the aftermath of the collision, Elders found that Kathnelson “attempted to evade criminal and civil liability” — first, when he reported his vehicle stolen to the Ontario Provincial Police the day after the crash. Then, when he denied his identity to a Port Hope police officer who attended the hotel.

Through their investigation, the OPP determined that Kathnelson’s vehicle had not been stolen and, on May 18, 2023, Kathnelson attended the service’s Cobourg division, where he was charged with one count of public mischief.

“Not only did you cause an accident but you deceived two separate police services,” Elders wrote in his decision.

On Aug. 23, 2023, Kathnelson pleaded guilty to the charge at the Ontario Court of Justice. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

When deciding upon the officer’s professional penalty, Elders considered Kathnelson’s “stellar” career, alongside his eventual cooperation with the investigation.

Still, Elders said the incident poses to “erode public trust” and cause “serious damage” to the service and its reputation.

In turn, the hearing officer handed Kathnelson a one-year demotion to Second Rank Constable, set to come into effect upon return from his ongoing medical leave.  

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