A local police officer who covered up for a colleague accused of being light-fingered was ordered Tuesday to do 100 hours of community service.

Jeff Vongkhamphou, 31, admitted he disposed of a sex toy and nude photographs that had allegedly been stolen on police calls by Christopher Knox.

Both men, Waterloo Regional Police constables who are suspended with pay, worked as patrol officers when the alleged thefts from homes in Kitchener and Waterloo took place last year.

“I had a terrible lapse in judgment and failed to make the right decision,” Vongkhamphou wrote in a letter submitted in Kitchener court. “The decisions I made do not accurately reflect the kind and honest person I am.”

Crown prosecutor David Foulds argued for a jail sentence after the eight-year member of the force pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing justice.

“The court has to send a message to other police officers that significant failures of integrity will be punished by the court,” Foulds said.

Justice Kathleen McGowan, however, noted Vongkhamphou eventually admitted his crime and implicated Knox, who still faces criminal charges.

She also said Vongkhamphou, a baby-faced man who appeared at court in an argyle sweater, is remorseful and appears to have had an “otherwise unblemished career.”

McGowan placed him on probation for a year with terms to perform community service and not communicate with Knox.

“He will have to work hard to restore his integrity in the community,” she said.

McGowan also said that such cases of police wrongdoing, which “challenge the integrity of the entire system,” are thankfully rare.

“The public should feel some security in that fact,” she said.

Defence lawyer Bernie Cummins stressed Vongkhamphou, who is married with one young child, didn’t benefit from his crime.

“He does it blindly out of loyalty to another officer,” he said. “I submit there was nothing in it for him.”

Court heard Vongkhamphou and Knox investigated an attempted house break-in in January 2011.

During the call, Knox allegedly stole a dildo from the victim. He is alleged to have later showed it to Vongkhamphou and other officers and took a picture of it with his BlackBerry.

A month later, according to an agreed-to statement of facts, Knox and other officers went to a call in Waterloo about a suicidal woman.

Knox allegedly found nude or partially nude pictures of the woman — part of her modelling portfolio — and stole them.

Vongkhamphou wasn’t on that call, but later saw the photos when Knox allegedly showed them to him at work and shared them in a BlackBerry Messenger group that included seven officers.

Knox was arrested in April 2011. He then allegedly texted Vongkhamphou and asked him to get items out of his locker — including the sex toy and one or two of the photos — and destroy them.

Vongkhamphou didn’t admit he had put the items in a dumpster until his third interview with investigators more than six months later.

Cummins said Vongkhamphou still faces professional charges under the Police Services Act and his job — which pays about $90,000 a year with overtime — is in jeopardy.

“I deeply regret my behaviour and am ashamed of the person that participated in the activities that has (sic) brought me into the justice system,” Vongkhamphou wrote.

Knox, a four-year member of the force, is scheduled to make his next court appearance June 4 on charges including voyeurism and breach of trust.

Both men, who worked as patrol officers at the Waterloo detachment, remain suspended with pay pending internal disciplinary procedures.

Hearings for the two officers, which are typically put on hold until the resolution of criminal charges, have not been set.

More from Kitchener:

blog comments powered by Disqus