A Barrie police officer facing disciplinary action for discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act has resigned from the local force.
The resignation will take effect Friday, a police tribunal learned on Thursday.
“She will no longer be a member of the police service and this tribunal will lose jurisdiction as a result,” her lawyer, Kate Robertson, said during a conference call which replaced the sentencing hearing.
Lesley Johnston had earlier pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct under the Ontario Police Services Act and was later found guilty of another unrelated charge of discreditable conduct under the same Act.
The three-day sentence hearing was to begin Wednesday, but that was suddenly cancelled and replaced with Thursday’s minute-long call.
Johnston’s first Police Services Act charge, to which she pleaded guilty, related to a criminal conviction.
During last spring’s hearing, the tribunal heard Johnston had earlier pleaded guilty to the criminal charge of fraud under $5,000 two years ago for working part-time for $15 per hour while collecting Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits during a leave from the Barrie Police Service in 2016 related to post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.
The hearing heard that she earned a total of $6,915.54 which was not taxed and that she did not claim. She later repaid the earnings. Johnston was handed a conditional discharge and 12 months probation in criminal court.
A second accusation arose from what the prosecution called a “drunken bar brawl” in which Johnston became involved two days after the court appearance for fraud in 2019. Johnston claimed she was defending herself against an aggressive woman while in a Midland restaurant, although she admitted to throwing the first punch.
With that discreditable conduct charge, Johnston was accused of and subsequently found guilty.
“Lesley has valued her time in public service, working alongside colleagues of the Barrie Police Service, tremendously,” Robertson said of her client following Thursday’s announcement. “She has decided to move forward to a new chapter and is very much looking forward to that stage of her career.”
Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood issued a short statement via email: “Lesley Johnston will be resigning from the Barrie Police Service on Oct. 15, 2021. Today, the Police Service Act charges that she was facing have been withdrawn by the prosecutor as of tomorrow, she is no longer a police officer.”