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Four navy members accused of impersonating police
« on: May 03, 2012, 12:40:19 PM »
Four navy members accused of impersonating police

May 2, 2012 - 1:03pm By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter

Four members of the Royal Canadian Navy talk outside Dartmouth provincial court Wednesday after their arraignment on a charge of impersonating police. From left are Scott Broderick, Bronson Mahnke, Nicholas Brownhill and John Proctor. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

Four members of the Royal Canadian Navy stood shoulder to shoulder in Dartmouth provincial court Wednesday for their arraignment on a charge of posing as police officers.

The young men were charged after someone in a car pulled in behind a vehicle that was parked on Bissett Road in Cole Harbour on March 25 at about 1 a.m. and activated blue and red flashing lights on the dash and a siren.

The fake police car pulled away moments later without anyone getting out.

A short time later, RCMP stopped a Dodge Avenger matching the description of the suspicious car and arrested the four occupants on a charge of impersonating police.

Three of the accused – Scott Carman Broderick, 21, Nicholas Christopher Brownhill, 22, and John Arthur Proctor, 20 – live in the same apartment on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax, according to court documents.

Bronson Guenther Mahnke, 19, is listed as having an address in Parry Sound, Ont.

Police laid a summary charge against the men, so the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine or six months in jail. It also means the matter is eligible to be referred to the province's adult diversion program, which would allow the men to accept responsibility for their alleged actions without getting criminal convictions.

The accused, crewmates on a Halifax-based frigate, wore civilian clothes to court Wednesday. Three uniformed naval officers were in the gallery to observe the proceedings.

Lawyer Bill Leahey represented Brownhill while Josh Arnold was there for Broderick. The other two men have yet to retain counsel.

Leahey asked that the case be adjourned for two weeks to give Crown and defence counsel a chance to discuss the charge.

“There may be a resolution that’s possible,” Leahey told the court. “I’ve just spoken with the Crown and she made a suggestion that’s not unreasonable to me.”

Crown attorney Karen Quigley said she hadn’t discussed the potential resolution with all of the accused yet.

Judge Brian Gibson ordered the accused and their lawyers to return to court May 16.

Adult diversion has been offered provincewide since 1997 to first-time offenders of minor crimes. A case is diverted from court and referred to a probation officer, who draws up a contract outlining the steps the offender can take to resolve the matter. If the terms of the diversion contract are fulfilled, the charge is dropped.

RCMP in March called the impersonation incident “isolated” but reminded the public that even plainclothes officers driving in unmarked vehicles are able to produce police identification.

Anyone wanting to confirm an officer’s identity can call 911 to check the name and position provided, RCMP said.