Gary Lawrence Basso, a former Halifax Regional Police constable, is appealing his conviction and sentence for punching a homeless man in the face on February 25, 2018.
Basso was on duty at the time of the assault.
On January 31, 2020, Judge Halfpenny-MacQuarrie sentenced Gary Basso to 90 days in jail to be served on weekends, one-year probation and a 10-year firearms prohibition order. He was originally found guilty on June 12, 2019.
Two weeks later, on February 13th, Chief Justice Michael Wood granted the disgraced former police officer’s request for release on bail of $3,000 while Basso awaits the outcome of his appeal. Justice Wood also prohibited Bass from possessing weapons of any kind.
Basso’s notice of appeal claims Judge Halfpenny-MacQuarrie made numerous errors in law, failed to provide “sufficiently intelligible” reasons for her decisions.
Basso claims the sentence of 90 days in jail is “unduly harsh and outside the acceptable range” for his crime because jail time was not the least restrictive sentence available. He also claims the firearm prohibition order is unjust because it makes no exception for employment.
He requests the Appeals Court set aside his conviction and enter an acquittal in its place, or order a new trial. If the conviction is upheld, Basso wants the sentence “decreased substantially.”
If this was Gary Basso’s first offence, I might agree. But it’s not the first time this now-former constable betrayed the public’s trust.
Given his past conduct as recorded in other criminal proceedings, including another set of charges against him, I think Judge Halfpenny-MacQuarrie’s sentence was quite appropriate.
NOT BASSO’S FIRST CRIMINAL CHARGES
The Halifax Regional Police contacted the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) on May 21, 2015 with information regarding a potential theft, breach of trust, and obstruction of justice committed by one of their constables.
After their investigation was complete, SIRT Director Ronald J. MacDonald filed charges against Constable Basso on January 27, 2016.
The allegations of theft and breach of trust related to a substance known as “cut” which went missing from an HRP exhibit locker. “Cut” is used in the illegal drug trade and is mixed with the actual drug to increase quantity and profitability. The allegation of obstruction of justice relates to alleged steps taken to help a third party avoid detection and arrest by other HRP members.
For reasons I am unable to ascertain, all charges against Constable Basso were dropped. There was no explanation why the charges were dropped in the single vague reference I could locate.
Violated Defendant’s Charter Rights
In May 2015, suspected drug dealer Tavia Patrice Connelly sat in a holding cell for 15.5 hours waiting to speak to her lawyer because Constable Basso instructed his watch commander to suspend Ms. Connolly’s right to a phone call to counsel. This is one of numerous violations of Connelly’s Charter rights by Halifax Regional Police officers.
On March 18, 2019, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady tossed out all evidence against Tavia Connelly in a scathing indictment of the behaviour of numerous Halifax Regional Police officers, including Constable Basso.
 Ms. Connolly argues that the 15.5 hour delay in implementing her s. 10(b) rights is unreasonable in the circumstances. She was advised of her right to counsel at 7:04 p.m. and immediately indicated she wanted to speak to counsel.
 Cst. Adam Whynott testified that he was aware Ms. Connolly was taken to booking but he was not aware of any issues around her right to consult with counsel. He subsequently learned it was Cst. Basso’s decision to suspend Ms. Connolly’s contact with counsel.
 Cst. Martin Fry further testified that, until the preliminary inquiry, he was not aware that her right to counsel was delayed for 15.5 hours. He stated he was surprised to learn of the delay.
Gary Basso’s appeal is scheduled for October 1, 2020. I’ll update this article when that appeal gets underway.