An imprisoned cop killer will get the $9,500 he was awarded by a human rights tribunal, after he complained that he was being forced to stand up in prison during head counts, an act that he said was difficult and painful because of chronic and severe back pain he suffers. A new decision by the Federal Court of Appeal blocks an attempt by Ottawa to stop the payout to Peter Collins (inset), who murdered an Ottawa policeman in 1983. Collins was awarded the money by the Canadian Human Rights Commission after a hearing into his complaints about how he was being treated in prison.
In a decision in 2010, the Canadian Human Rights Commission ordered Corrections Canada to pay Collins $9,500 for pain and suffering and special compensation. The government appealed and in 2011 a federal court judge permitted Ottawa’s request for a judicial review of the human rights decision. Collins appealed that decision, and this week, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the 2011 decision, ruling that “there was no basis justifying the judge’s intervention.” In 1983, Collins, then 22, had escaped from a detention centre in the Ottawa area, shot and killed 38-year-old police constable David Utman (inset right) at a shopping mall. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. He was smug and defiant at his sentencing in 1984, according to a report in the Ottawa Citizen. According to the newspaper’s account of the hearing, Collins refused to stand when he was being sentenced and told the judge: “I don’t want to.”
The murder of Constable Utman was cold-blooded, according to this account by the Ottawa Citizen, published in 2010 and based on the recollections of retired Nepean police chief Gus Wersch.
As Utman sat in the Gourmet Fair coffee shop at around noon, his back to a wall, Peter Michael Collins, 22, shot at the officer’s head. The bullet missed and Utman, drawing his nightstick, walked out of the café and into the hall to keep members of the public out of the line of fire. “One could easily call it an act of heroism,” Wersch said at the time. Witnesses said Utman tried to talk Collins into giving him the gun, coming within two metres of him. “I guess I’ll have to kill you,” Collins said. He shot Utman in the chest. Utman died 90 minutes later.
In 2012, Collins was denied parole. He is British and is set to be deported to England if he is released from prison in Canada.