Christopher Nicholson. (File photo)

UPDATE: No jail time for Abbotsford cop in breach-of-trust case

Christopher Nicholson was trying to protect his informants, defence lawyer said

An Abbotsford Police officer who pleaded guilty to breach of trust won’t spend any time in jail.

The sentencing hearing of Christopher Nicholson, who pleaded guilty to a single charge last September, took place Friday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Nine other charges against Nicholson are expected to be stayed during sentencing.

Justice Brenda Brown agreed with a joint recommendation by crown counsel and the defence that Nicholson should serve six months of house arrest by 11 months of a curfew, with conditions.

The incidents forming the basis of the breach-of-trust charge included Nicholson falsifying a search warrant for a grow operation and instructing a man under arrest to dispose of any drugs in his possession, the court heard.

At sentencing, Brown said Nicholson was in a position of trust and that his actions undermined the public’s confidence in the APD and betrayed the trust of his fellow officers.

Earlier, Nicholson’s lawyer had told the court that his client’s crimes were committed with the intention of protecting his informant. In the case of the grow operation, Nicholson changed the number of plants believed to be at the location in order to protect his informant’s identity, the defence said.

Nicholson was described by the defence as an upstanding citizen and a “loving and engaged father.”

It’s not yet known when the judge will hand down a sentence.

Nicholson, who first began working with the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) in 2005, was charged in May 2013 with six counts of obstructing justice, three counts of breach of trust and one count of conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance.

In February 2015, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) announced it was looking into 148 allegations of misconduct involving Nicholson and 16 other APD officers.

The OPCC said the matter stemmed from the investigation into Nicholson, and the allegations included corrupt practice, deceit and neglect of duty.

The investigation was later narrowed down to 15 officers and 137 allegations.

Then, in February of this year, the OPCC announced that it was discontinuing its investigation into all but four of the officers, and it was continuing to look into only 15 of the claims.

The agency has said it will release a report on the findings once the investigation is complete.

Nicholson has been suspended without pay from the police force as the case has proceeded through the courts.

Watch abbynews.com later today for more from the sentencing hearing.

– with files by Tyler Olsen

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