Marathon DUI case of ex-RCMP officer approaches finish line

Decision in impaired driving case of ex-RCMP officer Ronald Cleveland delayed

The prolonged case of a former RCMP officer facing two charges related to impaired driving came closer to a conclusion on Thursday, with the end of the closing arguments.

Defence lawyer James Matheson argued in Moncton provincial court that his client, Ronald Cleveland, rights were violated on the night of his arrest on March 21, 2014, when Cleveland was arrested by colleague Const. Joel Arsenault.

The 49-year-old former sergeant has been charged with operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and with operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

As part of his closing arguments, Matheson said Cleveland's right to retain and instruct a lawyer without delay, and to be informed of that right, were violated by police on the night of his arrest.​

Matheson highlighted how roughly 16 minutes passed before the arresting officer read Cleveland his rights. The defence lawyer described a scene in which his client was "fully detained" in the back of a police car for an "appreciable period of time," while the arresting officer was on the phone with Codiac RCMP's acting sergeant.

Cleveland was on leave at the time.

Matheson went on to say that his client's right to retain and instruct counsel without delay was breached a second time, at the police station, when Cleveland wasn't able to have a second part of his phone call with his lawyer — then, Wendell Maxwell — before doing a breathalyzer test, which he failed.

Matheson argued the results of that test should be excluded from the evidence because of the breaches.

In response, Crown prosecutor Claude Haché argued that Arsenault concluded, based on two separate interactions with Cleveland on the morning of the incident, that the sergeant was impaired.

RCMP had received a 911 call about a potentially impaired driver with a licence plate that matched Cleveland's, so Arsenault went to Cleveland's home.

Waiting outside of Cleveland's home, Arsenault called Cleveland and asked for his whereabouts. Cleveland responded that he was home.

Haché said Arsenault told Cleveland that that was "impossible," given that Arsenault was at Cleveland's home.

At that point, Arsenault informed Cleveland of the 911 call about a potentially impaired driver with a license plate that matched his.

The second occasion occurred roadside, following Cleveland's return home, said Haché. Based on Cleveland's behaviour, Arsenault arrested his colleague.

Haché said Arsenault knows Cleveland and, therefore, knows his normal behaviour.

Regarding Matheson's claim that the police breached Cleveland's rights at the police station, Haché said that Cleveland did speak to his lawyer — he just didn't speak to him twice.

Judge Paul Duffie will make a decision on May 24 at 1 p.m. AT.