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April 2014



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Dane Spurrell with his mother, Diane Spurrell. — Telegram file photo


RNC officers breached regulations in Dane Spurrell case, ruling states


Two Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers breached multiple RNC regulations when they arrested and detained an autistic teenager in 2009, according to an adjudicator’s decision released Mon­day.


Diane Spurrell filed the original complaint with the RNC Public Complaints Commission following the arrest of her then 18-year-old son, Dane, in Mount Pearl. He was accused of obstructing police officers, who mistakenly thought he was publicly intoxicated while walking home from a video store shortly after midnight on April 19, 2009.


Almost five years later, adjudicator John McGrath has found the two officers involved in the arrest guilty of breaching multiple RNC regulations.


“I think it’s a very fair decision,” Diane Spurrell told The Telegram Monday, the same day she received her copy of the decision. “I’m elated, absolutely elated to finally have it.”


Const. Lisa Harris — formerly known as Lisa Puddicombe — was the first officer to come in contact with Dane Spurrell that night. McGrath found her guilty of breaching five regulations.


Those breaches are for arresting and detaining Spurrell without sufficient cause, being discourteous towards him, neglecting to promptly and diligently perform officer duties, acting contrary to the RNC policy and procedures manual, and failing to obey RNC regulations, orders and rules concerning policy and procedure.


“We believe in this instance it wasn’t (Spurrell’s) ability to communicate that caused a lot of the problems herein,” McGrath wrote in the decision, “it was a combination of Constable Harris’ frustration believing she was being outwitted by Dane Spurrell, her failure to follow the RNC Policy and Procedures Manual and a significant lack of understanding of the provisions in that manual and ultimately her failure to allow a simple phone call to and with his mother that would have put a stop to the unnecessary turmoil that followed.”


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