Canada
'If you buy me a beer, Iíll forget everything at trial,' flirty cop texts drunk driving accused

Credits: DANIEL PUNCH/QMI AGENCY

NEIL BOWAN | QMI AGENCY

SARNIA, ON - A judge says a city police officer showed "utter stupidity" by flirting with a woman following her arrest for drunk driving, but found the woman guilty anyway.

Marlee Dorinda Viggers, 21, was fined $1,500 for driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding the legal limit. She also received a one-year driving ban.

Const. Robert Sparling, an eight-year veteran, conducted breath tests on March 6, 2011, that indicated Viggers had a blood-alcohol level nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit.

Some weeks later, Sparling and Viggers were at the same Sarnia bar when he sent her a text message that read, "If you buy me a beer, I'll forget everything at trial."

Viggers sent a return message, saying, "I wished it worked that way."

The text messages were offered up as exhibits by the defence at Viggers' trial. The exchange included references to sarcasm and kidding, the court heard.

"I was joking," Sparling said.

Defence lawyer Ken Marley said the messages were "entirely inappropriate" and brought into question the officer's evidence about the breath tests.

Marley asked Sparling whether he showed a romantic interest in Viggers when the test was administered, and whether she rebuffed him.

Sparling testified he showed no interest in Viggers before or during the testing, which was witnessed by another officer. He said his conduct at the bar had no impact on his involvement in the case.

Judge R.G. Hunter said there's no reason to believe the alcohol readings were concocted.

Following the trial, deputy police chief Bob Farlow told QMI Agency the officer's comments were inappropriate and showed bad judgment.

Sarnia police will investigate the matter and deal with it internally, Farlow said.

Viggers was driving a pickup truck on snowy roads March 6 when she hit curbs on both sides of a street before crashing into the driver's side of a car.

The other driver was cut by window glass but didn't require hospital treatment.

At the crash scene, Viggers told an officer she'd been drinking.

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