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Judge orders ex-RNC officer into anger-management counselling

['Royal Newfoundland Constabulary media relations officer Const. Steve Curnew speaks with the media Tuesday afternoon at RNC headquarters in Fort Townshend about last weekend’s shooting incident on Boyle Street in St. John’s.']
Steve Curnew. – Telegram file photo

Steve Curnew given conditional discharge for breaching emergency protection order

“You may not be a violent person, but it’s evident you are an angry person,” a provincial court judge told ex-police officer Steve Curnew Monday morning.

Curnew, 44, pleaded guilty in January to a charge of breaching an emergency protection order that banned him from being near his ex-wife, her home and her property.

Giving him a discharge conditional on two months of probation and an order to attend anger-management counselling, Judge Lori Marshall indicated she would have considered an absolute discharge had Curnew not said the things he had at his sentencing hearing.

“When you were addressing the court … it became obvious that you continue to harbour a great deal of animosity towards (your ex-wife) and even though you have taken responsibility for your actions by pleading guilty, you have no remorse and you blame her for your current situation,” Marshall said. “The resentment toward her is palpable.”

Curnew — a former media relations officer as well as a member of the RNC’s criminal investigation division — breached the emergency order last July, four days after it was implemented.

The court heard he had pulled his vehicle up in front of his ex wife’s home to pick up their teenage son. When he brought the boy back a couple of hours later, he took the woman’s dog, which had come outside, for a walk.

Curnew’s son had told his mother that Curnew was going to take the dog for a walk, and after a period of time the woman told her son it was OK. She contacted police later that day to report Curnew had been on her property.

Curnew was arrested and taken to the St. John’s city lockup before being released with conditions the next day.

The emergency protection order, in which the woman had described Curnew as “unpredictable and unstable,” was withdrawn by the court in August with her consent, in favour of a private agreement between the two.

“You may not be a violent person, but it’s evident you are an angry person." — Judge Lori Marshall

At his sentencing hearing, Curnew told the court his ex-wife had been perpetrating “a complete slanderfest” since they had decided to separate.

“The allegations in the EPO (emergency protection order) are all false,” he said.

Prosecutor Nicole Hurley had suggested a fine of $1,000 for Curnew, noting he had breached the order within days after it was implemented and, as a police officer, should have known better.

Curnew’s lawyer, Randy Piercey, suggested an absolute discharge, stressing Curnew does not have a criminal record and the charge had already had a significant impact on him. He was stupid but not evil when he violated the order, Piercey said.

Violating an EPO is not a criminal charge, but a conviction under the Family Violence Protection Act.

Marshall noted Curnew — who is no longer employed with the RNC, reportedly for unrelated reasons — had been “publicly disgraced” for his actions, had not breached the conditions of his release since the charge, had pleaded guilty and had not used violence when he breached the order.

“On the other hand, you were a police officer who was clearly pushing the boundaries of the EPO,” the judge said.

Marshall said she didn’t feel a fine would address Curnew’s need for rehabilitation, and imposed the conditional sentence with mandatory counselling instead.

“Will you sign the order?” she asked Curnew.

“The only issue I have, your honour, is I’m not intending on staying in this province. I was going to be out of the province last week. I have a job in Ontario,” he replied.

“I don’t want to be in this province. I have nothing left in this province.”

Curnew asked if he could do the counselling elsewhere, and his lawyer told the court it could likely be arranged through a probation officer.

“Well, I have imposed an order that requires your signature. You’re either going to sign it today or you’re going to refuse to sign it, so you have to make your decision now.”

Curnew said he would sign the order, and court was adjourned.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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