Sunday, February 1, 2015
Ex-Gold Coast police chief Paul Wilson left service with unresolved findings of misconduct against him. The Gold Coast cops are notoriously corrupt
The former chief of police on the Gold Coast left the Queensland Police Service (QPS) last year with unresolved findings of misconduct against him for inappropriately disclosing confidential police information.
The ABC can reveal Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson was facing a Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) recommendation for disciplinary action when he left the service in January 2014, with a formal send-off and a Commissioner's Award for Meritorious Service.
The ABC understands he also received a significant severance payout.
Court documents show that three weeks before his departure, the CMC found Mr Wilson had inappropriately disclosed police information, leading to the identification of a Crime Stoppers informant.
The documents, which emerged in civil litigation in the District Court in Brisbane, include a letter from the CMC describing an investigation into allegations Mr Wilson had abused his position as a senior officer to gain an advantage in a bitter family dispute over his mother's estate.
They show other senior QPS officers became involved in an investigation of Mr Wilson's brother Robert after anonymous complaints to Crime Stoppers that Robert Wilson planned to murder his mother to get his hands on her money, and had previously murdered his father.
Do you know more about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nothing was found to substantiate the allegations against Robert Wilson and he subsequently complained to the CMC about his brother's conduct.
The CMC's acting director of integrity services, Darren Brookes, wrote to Robert Wilson on December 24, 2013 telling him the anti-corruption body had found there was insufficient evidence to warrant the recommendation of any criminal charges against Paul Wilson.
"However, the investigation did find that AC Wilson had inappropriately disclosed information and QPS documents ... resulting in the Crime Stoppers informant being named and identified," Mr Brookes wrote.
According to the letter, the CMC investigation had also found that, based on the available material, Paul Wilson was in breach of procedural guidelines for professional conduct relating to conflicts of interest and rules regarding "improper use of QPS information".
"Therefore, we have recommended to the Queensland Police Service that consideration be given to taking disciplinary action against AC Wilson for misconduct under the Police Service (Discipline) Regulations 1990," the CMC official wrote.
"Accordingly, the CMC has referred the matter to the QPS for that purpose."
The QPS confirmed it received the referral, telling the ABC it was handled by Commissioner Ian Stewart.
By the time the CMC letter was sent, the QPS had already announced Mr Wilson's departure from the service, making this public on December 19.
A QPS spokesman told the ABC it had first learned of the CMC investigation in October 2013.
Asked if the CMC misconduct finding or investigation had had any bearing on the timing or nature of Mr Wilson's departure, the spokesman said: "Any response impinges on the privacy of Mr Wilson."
The QPS declined to reveal details of any severance payment to Mr Wilson.
<i>Wilson siblings in long-running dispute over mother's estate</i>
The CMC letter is attached to an affidavit filed by Robert Wilson in a long-running dispute with his brother Paul and sister Joan Clifford over the estate of their mother, Kathleen Wilson, who died in April 2014.
The documents include police memos and Crime Stoppers logs that originated in an earlier case relating to the mother's competency in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Paul Wilson had filed in QCAT logs of six Crime Stoppers calls in which a confidential informant had claimed Robert Wilson planned to murder his mother in order to defraud her estate.
The memos show Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett had briefed the then head of the QPS Organised Crime Group, Detective Superintendent John Sheppard, about the allegations against Robert Wilson in January 2012.
Detective Superintendent Sheppard wrote in a May, 2012 memo to Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon - head of State Crime Operations Command - that he had uncovered the identity of the Crime Stoppers informant and interviewed him.
He found the informant "was not aware of any specific act or incident that could be interpreted as (Robert Wilson) threatening or committing violence towards his mother".
"He offered no direct evidence of any offence that may have been committed," the detective wrote.
Detective Superintendent Sheppard wrote that he had then briefed Paul Wilson.
"He was appreciative of what had been done to that point. He also accepted the difficulties that the criminal investigation into his brother's actions was facing," he wrote.
Detective Superintendent Sheppard told Assistant Commissioner Condon that he had discussed the matter with the head of the fraud squad, Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, and recommended the file be passed to him.
The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) told the ABC its predecessor, the CMC, had written to the QPS on January 8, 2014 "to report on the outcome of the investigation and to recommend the consideration of disciplinary action against Assistant Commissioner Wilson and the provision of managerial guidance to two other officers".
A spokesman for the CCC said it would be inappropriate to name the other officers.
"Disciplinary action is the responsibility of the QPS," the spokesman said, adding that the timing of Mr Wilson's departure from the QPS was "a matter for Mr Wilson and the QPS".
<i>Robert Wilson fails in bid to block eviction order</i>
Robert Wilson was his mother's carer prior to her death and had been living in her house in the Brisbane suburb of Tarragindi for the past three years.
Last week, he failed in the District Court to block an eviction order in favour of Paul Wilson and Ms Clifford and left the house on Thursday.
As the eviction deadline passed, the ABC witnessed Paul Wilson - accompanied by a crew of removalists - greet police officers who were checking the building had been vacated.
Paul Wilson chairs the Brisbane Central committee of Crime Stoppers and was a director of Crime Stoppers between 2005 and 2007. He is also a director of the Police Credit Union.
He began his career in the QPS in 1974, working as a senior detective in the Whitsundays and as the divisional commander in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane before taking the reins on the Gold Coast, where he was responsible for 1,400 sworn officers.
His last posting was to the Police Academy, from where he was given a send-off at which Commissioner Stewart presented him with a Commissioner's Award for Meritorious Service.
The QPS said such medals were at the discretion of the Commissioner.
Mr Wilson's website, paulwilsonconsulting.com.au describes him as "one of the truly great leaders ... a hypnotic storyteller and enthralling voice on modern leadership".
Mr Wilson did not respond to emails and calls from the ABC
Posted by JR at 8:52 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
S.A.: Police Complaints Authority report found Constable Norman Hoy was unprofessional bully who was rude, arrogant and harsh to drivers
Nasty old goat got let off a charge because his form was not revealed
CONSTABLE Norman Hoy was a threatening, harsh, unfair, arrogant and rude bully whose insulting, unprofessional behaviour breached regulations, according to a damning Police Complaints Authority report.
The Advertiser today can reveal details of 11 Police Complaints Authority inquiries into Const Hoy, who was acquitted by a District Court jury last Friday of assaulting millionaire Yasser Shahin.
Within hours of the not guilty verdict being handed down by a jury, Const Hoy’s legal team, accompanied by SA Police Association President Mark Carroll, served an injunction on The Advertiser banning publication of the complaints.
That gag order was to remain in force until a hearing in the District Court today — however Const Hoy’s lawyers advised, just after 8am, they would not be pursuing their action.
Judge Paul Slattery formally dismissed the injunction just after 11am. He ordered Const Hoy, through the Police Association, to pay The Advertiser’s legal costs.
The injunction temporarily stopped The Advertiser from publishing details of a 2009 Police Complaints Authority report which concluded the "common theme” of complaints from members of the public against the 59-year-old traffic cop were descriptions of him as:
THREATENING, harsh, unfair and unfriendly.
ARROGANT and rude, someone who looked down on drivers.
A POLICE officer who made drivers feel like second-class citizens.
A QUITE aggressive, frightening bully.
ANGRY, confronting and intimidating while yelling at and embarrassing drivers.
One complaint, in 2008, arose from Const Hoy pulling over and defecting a luxury car because its front passenger window’s tint was too dark — two years before his clash with Mr Shahin over the tinting of his Rolls Royce.
In a sequence of events similar to those involving Mr Shahin, Const Hoy told the driver to "shut your mouth” and "don’t have a hissy fit”.
Last week, a District Court jury cleared Const Hoy - described by SA Police Association President Mark Carroll as a "hero cop” for preventing a serious crash on the South Eastern Freeway - of assaulting Mr Shahin, one of South Australia’s most successful business figures.
Prosecutors had alleged he exceeded his lawful authority by grabbing Mr Shahin while defecting his 2008 Rolls Royce for apparently having windows which were too dark.
Mr Shahin’s family company, Peregrine Corporation, owns several of the state’s most profitable retail businesses, including On the Run, Smoke Mart and Krispy Kreme.
During the trial, Mr Shahin told jurors Const Hoy was "hostile” and "hellbent” on bullying him, and had "shoved and grabbed” him during the traffic stop in the Adelaide CBD in September, 2010.
Mr Shahin denied he did "everything in his power” to ensure he was charged.
In his evidence, Const Hoy said he had "no choice” but to grab Mr Shahin because the "intimidating, threatening” businessman would not obey his directions. He denied he engaged in "a power play” with Mr Shahin to show that he "was the boss”.
After 75 minutes’ deliberation, the jury found Const Hoy not guilty.
It can now be reported Mr Shahin’s complaint, to the Police Complaints Authority, was the 12th matter filed against Const Hoy.
The PCA report did not form part of the evidence against Const Hoy in his trial.
According to the report, another driver recalled an encounter with Const Hoy in 2008 where he felt the "rudeness and aggression” displayed toward him was "totally unacceptable”.
"Const Hoy said ‘look, do you want me to explain this to you or not?’ and when the driver said ‘no, I don’t’, he replied ‘well shut up then!’”.
The PCA report, written in 2009, says that when Const Hoy felt the driver was showing "further agitation he said words to the effect of ‘don’t have a hissy fit, let me finish what I was saying, will you?’”
Const Hoy told the authority he was merely seeking to "control” the driver, who was "verbally bullying me”. He said he "made a deliberate choice” of those words to "have him (the driver) comply”. "I believe (the driver) was rude to me and verbally trying to bully me,” the report quotes Const Hoy as saying. "He showed no respect for my position and I believe he was trying to influence my decision by his actions.”
The PCA disagreed.
"I find it ironic that Const Hoy should accuse (the driver) of using bullying tactics,” its report says.
"This is the very thing that (the driver) and numerous other, quite separate independent members of the public have accused Const Hoy of over the past 18 months.
"I recognise that not all of these complaints have been substantiated, but I also recognise that SA Police management have concerns that there may be a performance problem underlying this series of complaints. "I share those concerns.
"In the past 18 months, Const Hoy has been complained about on 11 occasions ... most, if not all, of these complaints (describe him) as rude, threatening and/or aggressive.”
The report is critical of Const Hoy’s handling of the 2008 matter.
"Having considered the evidence, I have formed the view that Const Hoy handled this situation poorly and that his use of the words ‘shut up’ and ‘shut your mouth’ were both unnecessary and unprofessional,” it says. "In my assessment, (his) conduct breached Police Regulation 17 in that it was both insulting and disrespectful to this complainant.”
The report notes SA Police management had advised Const Hoy would be counselled and receive further training.
"I propose to simply reinforce and support the need for the speedy development and implementation of an appropriate intervention strategy,” it says. "In the event he continues to generate complaints of this kind, then any future recommendations I make will be more punitive in nature.”
The report seen by The Advertiser was obtained from a complainant to the Authority, not from Mr Shahin, his family nor anyone connected with them or their business interests.
When Const Hoy was approached for comment last week - through the Police Association - his lawyers responded with a letter warning they would sue for defamation. Const Hoy’s legal team then applied for the interim injunction, which prevented publication of the story until today.
The Advertiser has again approached Const Hoy, through his lawyers, requesting his comment on the 2009 PCA report.
In a statement his afternoon, Police Association president Mark Carroll said it was "quite common” for police to receive complaints from motorists. "Drivers who commit traffic offences hardly relish receiving fines for their transgressions ... high emotion often accompanies their reactions,” he said.
"For this reason, and in the interests of full transparency, many traffic officers like Const Hoy purchase and use their own body-worn video or audio devices - as he did after he was the subject of complaints to the PCA.”
Mr Carroll said the evidence gathered by such devices was "usually compelling”, as "was the case” in Const Hoy’s trial. "It was surely a huge reason for the jury’s not guilty verdict,” he said.
"Cases like this illustrate why the Police Association has, for many years, lobbied strongly for body-worn video to be standard issue for all frontline police. "We shudder to think what the outcome of this case would have been without Const Hoy’s audio evidence.”
Mr Carroll also urged the public keep "perspective” about the matter. "Let’s remember that Const Hoy was shown by the unanimous decision of a District Court jury - and the subsequent comments of Judge Paul Rice - to have conducted himself entirely lawfully in his interaction with Mr Shahin,” he said.
Posted by JR at 8:56 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Serving SA Police officer Amanda Boughen pleads guilty to fabricating, altering or concealing evidence in ongoing case
A SERVING SA Police officer has admitted she fabricated, altered or concealed evidence in an ongoing investigation while working patrols in the northern suburbs.
For the first time, The Advertiser can today report details of the prosecution of Senior Constable Amanda Boughen following a plea bargain deal and the lifting of a suppression order.
Boughen, 40, of Mawson Lakes, had previously pleaded not guilty to one count of abuse of public office and one count of attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice.
It was alleged those offences, at Ingle Farm in May 2010, involved Boughen tipping off her then-lover, Storm Strang, to an investigation into his Bridge Rd, Para Hills drug crop.
Strang, 41, is facing sentencing for his role as ringleader of a three-state, four-year, $40 million cannabis trafficking syndicate that involved TV personality Clayton Lush.
However, Boughen also faced a separate set of allegations concerning her actions at the now-defunct Para Hills Police Station between May and September 2006.
That charge — one count of fabricate, alter or conceal evidence — has been the subject of an Adelaide Magistrates Court suppression order since it was filed earlier this year.
Today, Boughen pleaded guilty to that offence and the court heard the abuse of public office and obstruction counts had been withdrawn by prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.
Upon application by The Advertiser, Judge Paul Rice revoked the suppression order — permitting publication of all matters concerning Boughen for the first time.
Boughen was today remanded on continuing bail to face sentencing submissions next month.
Posted by JR at 4:59 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
An off-duty Victorian policeman who fled the scene of a multi-car crash was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .196 and the drug ecstasy in his system.
Nathan Harkness had been to a 40th birthday party in June when he drove through a red light outside Geelong and braked heavily before crashing into a parked car, which struck a second vehicle.
Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Tuesday that Harkness, 38, a senior constable, drove from the scene about 9am as the other drivers readied to exchange names and addresses.
Prosecutor Julian Ayres told the court that soon after, and "coincidentally", his car was noticed with damage by other police members.
Mr Ayres said Harkness tested positive to alcohol and at 11.52am a blood test was taken that later revealed the high reading and also the presence of ecstasy.
Harkness, who is suspended, pleaded guilty to charges of exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol, careless driving, failing to stop after an accident and failing a drug blood test.
His barrister, Sean Hardy, told the court his client, a policeman since 2008, was married with three children, had no prior convictions and his chance of retaining his job "doesn't look good".
Mr Hardy said Harkness did not take drugs and believed his drink may have been spiked, but admitted he tended to binge-drink alcohol.
He would suffer hardship as a result of his poor judgment, he submitted, as the circumstances were "not going to assist him" in future applications for work.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton told Harkness he was lucky his wife was not greeted at their front door with the news he had been killed or he had killed someone else.
Ms Broughton said he was "well aware of the carnage on the roads" and that he was "incredibly lucky" his type of drink-driving was not worse.
She told him he ought to have clearly known it was his duty to uphold the law and advised him that he needed to urgently and consistently address his issue with alcohol, but was confident "we will not see you back here again".
Harkness was convicted on all charges, fined a total of $2000 and had his licence cancelled for 19 months.
Posted by JR at 4:56 PM
Monday, October 27, 2014
A MAN suffered horrific spinal injuries during a police raid on a house when he was tasered in the head and allegedly thrown to the ground.
Plumber Mark Ratcliff is a quadriplegic as a result of the September 4 raid in which his vertebrae were smashed, rupturing his spinal cord. The 24-year-old has been in intensive care for more than a month and has recovered enough to talk only in the past few weeks.
Mr Ratcliff said he was asleep on the couch at a friend’s house in St James when police broke through the door. They were executing a search warrant looking for drugs.
He recalls being startled and said he ran towards the front door on instinct, but said he never made it outside because he was stopped by police and thrown to the floor.
“I remember a big bang when they kicked the door in,” Mr Ratcliff said. “I jumped straight up to see what the fuss was – someone’s kicked the door down on my mate’s house. I wanted to know what was going on. I remember getting thrown; I don’t remember getting tasered.”
A scar on his skull and another on his hand show where the taser barbs embedded.
But Mr Ratcliff believes it was being thrown to the ground that shattered the vertebrae in his neck and ruptured his spinal cord.
In a written statement, a spokeswoman for WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callag-han said internal affairs was investigating whether the officers used excessive force. The Corruption and Crime Commission will oversee the investigation.
The statement said officers were involved in a “struggle” with the 24-year-old. “A taser was deployed by one of the officers and the man has fallen to the ground and received an injury to his neck,” the statement said.
On the day of his injury, police told the hospital’s emergency department staff that Mr Ratcliff had been running away with his head down. He was tasered and head-butted the ground when he fell, resulting in the injuries.
They also told staff he may have been using drugs or alcohol, but Mr Ratcliff denies this. He said he had used drugs in the past but not on that day, and declared he “never had a criminal record”.
Mr Ratcliff has no feeling from the chest down and minimal movement in his arms. He breathes through a tracheotomy tube and requires 24-hour nursing care. “I am grieving for my past life – it’s like losing someone; I have lost myself,” he said.
Lawyer John Hammond, who is acting for Mr Ratcliff, said he was investigating WA Police’s legal liability in relation to the incident.
Posted by JR at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
POLICE will probe into the culture of the alleged offending of six officers arrested in the first major bust by the state’s new ICAC and its potential causes, Police Commissioner Gary Burns says.
Speaking outside the Police Association of SA annual delegates conference this morning, Mr Burns said a police department review of the Operation Mantle team where the officers worked would consider “the circumstances that may have fostered this type of behaviour to make sure it doesn’t happen again or in any other Mantle team”.
He said the seventh member of the team, a senior constable who has not faced charges, was also under investigation.
Mr Burns said the investigations of those officers, who have been suspended on full pay, may put cases they were working on under threat and also revealed the charges relating to property damage involved the destruction of potential police exhibits.
“That’s part of what we are looking at now — what the broader impact on policing is, in particular if these particular officers are involved in any arrests or reports that might be before the courts or going before the courts,” Mr Burns said.
He was unable to identify how many investigations it could affect.
Police Association of SA President Mark Carroll said the all members of the team are association members and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. He said the association would be speaking with them over the coming days.
Earlier this morning, Mr Burns told 891 ABC radio the offending ranks as a “ten” on the scale of one to ten in its seriousness.
Despite considering the level of alleged corruption as low level, when asked on radio this morning to rank the seriousness of the alleged offending Mr Burns had no hesitation in putting it at the top of the scale.
“From a police department’s perspective I expect every police officer to act with honesty and integrity,” he told 891 ABC radio this morning. “Talking to people within the department there’s quite a level of shock and horror about it.
“All I’m trying to say here is no form of corruption should be tolerated. “From a police perspective this is something that really impacts on us particularly when it comes to public confidence.”
Mr Burns said he did not have a value of the goods allegedly taken by the officers charged. He said while none of the goods could be considered high value there were greater issues at play for police.
“The issue for us is that these officers used their authority to enter premises to investigate drug offences and while they were doing that the allegation is that they took this type of equipment and they had no authority to do that,” he said.
Mr Burns agreed with the suggestion that prosecutors would allege the officers charged “got sticky fingers”. “Yes, that’s right,” he said.
Mr Burns and Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander announced the officers, including a sergeant, were charged on Monday with abuse of public office and stealing items including alcohol and electronics.
Mr Burns conceded the arrests would damage the public impression of SA Police. “The allegations are very disappointing,” Mr Burns told The Advertiser today. “Obviously every police officer in South Australia ... will be concerned about this, because we work on reputation. “We need public confidence and public support.
“Any matter like this, where police officers are involved in criminality will always have an impact.” “It shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on the other 4500 police officers who go out and do their work on a daily basis to the best of their ability.”
He said a deeper probe of the Operation Mantle branch would be conducted.
The joint investigation was led by Mr Lander with assistance from SA Police’s Anti-Corruption Branch. The four men and two women will appear in court on December 19.
The six officers are part of a seven-person Operation Mantle drug squad operating from the Sturt police station. They include a sergeant, senior constables and constables:
* A 53-year-old man from Darlington has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.
* A 43-year-old man from Aberfoyle Park has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of theft, and property damage.
* A 38-year-old man from Woodcroft has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of aggravated theft and property damage.
* A 33-year-old man from Camden Park has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.
* A 31-year-old woman from Sellicks Beach has been charged with abuse of public office, aggravated theft and property damage.
* A 27-year-old woman from Woodcroft has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.
Mr Burns said “irregularities” were first raised with senior police in January and February this year. The ICAC was then alerted, as required by legislation, including interviews with the one member not arrested and former staff in the unit.
“This is isolated to a small group,” Mr Burns insisted. “We’ll be looking at what opportunities they had that formed this little subculture that they operated.”
The six officers face a total of 18 charges including abuse of public office, aggravated theft and property damage. They range in age from 27 to 53. The group is not accused of onselling the allegedly stolen property.
Mr Lander, a former Federal Court judge, said he took charge of the inquiry to ensure that a person independent of the police force was probing the allegations.
Mr Lander said the accused officers had “let down” the force but he remained impressed by the professionalism of Anti-Corruption Branch officers he had worked with. “I thought it appropriate that somebody independent of SAPOL head the investigation because of the allegations that have been made,” Mr Lander said.
“I’m satisfied with the integrity of the Anti-Corruption Branch. “I think they would have still carried out the investigation even if I had not been occupying the position I did.”
Mr Lander said he was “disappointed” by both the allegations and evidence uncovered.
Mr Burns said Operation Mantle was dispatched to deal with “low level” drug dealing and street crime. There was “no indication” the officers had stolen drugs, he said. “It’s mainly in the lower-category items. Liquor, tools, some electronics,” Mr Burns said.
“The arrests today don’t finalise the investigation. This investigation will be ongoing.”
SA became the last state in the nation to set up an ICAC when the new watchdog became operational in September last year. This is its first case to result in arrests.
Mr Lander has previously revealed he had referred some allegations for prosecution.
Premier Jay Weatherill said he was disappointed by the allegations but said the arrests vindicated his move to set up an ICAC after having claimed the Labor leadership.
“Of course it’s awful when we see these breaches in public trust,” he said. “The public should have confidence the ICAC is doing its work and, where it finds these instances of breaches of public integrity, it’s rooting them out and bringing people to justice.
“The truth is there are still people that engage in opportunistic episodes of corruption, and we’re seeing that revealed. “It’s a good thing though (that) before these things take hold and become institutionalised that they’re able to be searched for, found and the people that have had these breaches of public trust brought to justice. “I’m confident that it’s an isolated instance.”
The officers have been suspended from duty pending court proceedings.
Last month, Mr Lander told The Advertiser he had referred a middle-ranking public servant to the Director of Public Prosecutions and was preparing other briefs.
He said one case under investigation related to the “conduct of a senior person in public administration’’ and local government was over-represented in complaints.
Of more than 900 complaints and reports made in the first year of the ICAC’s operation, less than 60 are under investigation for corruption-related offences after being assessed.
Mr Lander’s first report to State Parliament is expected to be tabled within weeks.
Posted by JR at 10:33 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014
The Australian Federal Police should not be let "anywhere near" an investigation of fresh evidence casting renewed suspicion on the Calabrian Mafia for the assassination of Colin Winchester, according to a retired judge with extensive knowledge of the case.
The AFP was last week subjected to a blistering criticism for its failure to seriously and impartially investigate secret new information potentially linking the 'Ndrangheta to the 1989 killing of the assistant federal police commissioner outside his Deakin home.
John Dee, QC, retired Victorian judge and counsel assisting to the original inquest into Mr Winchester's death, believes an independent taskforce needs to be set up to properly look at the fresh evidence, utilising Victoria Police, a force with past intelligence involvement in the case.
A senior Victoria Police source said the creation of such a joint organised crime taskforce was feasible, albeit under an AFP lead, and said his state's detectives were skilled and well placed for such a job. "It can be done," he said.
Mr Winchester was said to have double-crossed members of the organised crime group, who believed the assistant commissioner had been paid off to guarantee protection over drug crops near Bungendore.
But 11 Mafia members, known as the "Bungendore 11", were later charged over the crops following a mission codenamed Operation Seville, which Mr Winchester had worked on in the early 1980s.
Links between the group and Mr Winchester's murder were only ever speculative, and extensive investigations failed to identify any individual suspect.
But the inquiry into David Eastman's conviction for Mr Winchester's murder this year unearthed new, untested claims that appear to have taken the Mafia theory further.
The evidence is highly sensitive and was heard in secretive and restricted hearings before inquiry head Acting Justice Brian Martin earlier this year.
Yet internal AFP documents showed the agency was reluctant to investigate the new claims.
They reveal the AFP had a policy of not looking at areas already investigated by Operation Peat, the original team on the Winchester murder.
They also reveal the AFP believed such an investigation would be an "unnecessary diversion" from the factual issues surrounding Eastman's conviction, and that public disclosure of the new evidence could result in public criticism of the agency.
Mr Dee said he believes the AFP are not the right agency to be investigating the 'Ndrangheta theory.
"I wouldn't allow anybody from the AFP to get anywhere near it, except on a peripheral basis," he said.
"I would think it'd be good to have a separate taskforce from [Victoria Police] to have a look at it, because they're well in touch with what's going on up there, and they're very experienced at what they do."
Eastman's long-term campaigner and former lawyer Terry O'Donnell also said the new claims need to be properly investigated, and supported a call for Victoria Police to look at the matter, given their background with the case.
Mr Dee, years before Eastman's trial, warned the AFP about their use of Victorian forensic expert Robert Collins Barnes.
He had worked with Mr Barnes on the trial for the infamous Russell Street bombing of the Victorian police headquarters in 1986, and believed Mr Barnes had not been independent and was trying to be the "star of the show".
It is now known that his warnings were accurate. Mr Barnes was found to be biased and his work deeply flawed in the report of the inquiry into Eastman's conviction.
Posted by JR at 10:14 PM
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The Eastman inquiry has recommended David Eastman’s conviction for the infamous 1989 assassination of ACT police chief Colin Stanley Winchester be quashed.
The extraordinary finding could have the convicted murderer freed after almost 19 years behind bars, should it be followed by the ACT Supreme Court.
If Eastman walks, it will be despite the inquiry's judge saying he is “fairly certain” the former Treasury official killed Mr Winchester.
The inquiry's report finally arrived late on Friday afternoon, after six months, thousands of pages of documents, a conveyor belt of now ageing witnesses, and countless hours of public hearings.
Its recommendations are jaw-dropping.
They could potentially clear Eastman of shooting Mr Winchester, then an Assistant Federal Police Commissioner, twice at close range outside his neighbour's Canberra home late one summer night in 1989.
Inquiry head Acting Justice Brian Martin used the 447-page report to ultimately recommend Eastman’s conviction be quashed, saying a retrial would now neither be feasible nor fair.
Despite the recommendations, Acting Justice Martin said he still thought Eastman was likely to be guilty of the murder.
“While I am fairly certain the applicant is guilty of the murder of the deceased, a nagging doubt remains,” the judge wrote. “Regardless of my view of the case and the applicant’s guilt, the substantial miscarriage of justice suffered by the applicant should not be allowed to stand uncorrected.”
The enormity of his findings may take time to be fully realised.
The cold-blooded killing of Mr Winchester shocked the nation, sparking a lengthy manhunt, and leaving an indelible mark on the minds of Canberrans.
Mr Winchester is the highest ranking police officer ever to be assassinated, and the AFP famously described his death as the "end of innocence" in Australia.
Eastman, a disgruntled public servant trying to avoid an assault charge, quickly became a suspect in the killing and was arrested and taken to trial in 1995, following a lengthy investigation.
The ACT Government, police and prosecutors have remained tight-lipped about the inquiry’s findings so far, saying the matter is before the Supreme Court, which will decide on the next course of action.
Acting Justice Martin said a “substantial miscarriage of justice” had occurred, pointing chiefly to the unreliable gunshot residue analysis used to link Eastman to the scene.
“As a consequence of the substantial miscarriage of justice, the applicant has been in custody for almost 19 years,” Acting Justice Martin wrote.
Eastman, the judge said, was denied a fair chance of acquittal, and did not receive a fair trial.
He said his guilt had been decided on “deeply flawed” forensic evidence, in a trial where Eastman had been denied procedural fairness because of incomplete disclosure by the prosecution of all relevant material to the accused’s defence team.
The work of the case’s key forensic expert, Robert Collins Barnes, was significantly undermined during the inquiry; its credibility and reliability repeatedly savaged.
Barnes, now struggling in a battle with cancer, conceded some of his evidence had been misleading, and the inquiry heard he destroyed crucial exhibits, and failed to write reports for his most important results.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Liesl Chapman, SC, described his mixing up of results from the crime scene and Eastman’s car by saying: "For a forensic scientist, it doesn't get any worse than that.”
The supposedly independent expert was also covertly recorded professing himself to be a “police witness”, and resisting efforts to have his work reviewed.
“If we don't put a brake on these turkeys ... I mean, we don't want these bastards putting that sort of stuff in writing," Mr Barnes told detectives in 1994.
Barnes was subject to an internal disciplinary investigation in Victoria at the time, and his work was later audited following concerns stemming from his evidence in a separate case.
The Eastman inquiry’s report lies with the ACT Supreme Court, where a full bench will decide on a way forward. The court can only use Acting Justice Martin’s report to aid them in their decision.
ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell said the report was "comprehensive and considered", but it would be up to the court what orders were made.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Jon White, also declined to comment on the report, saying his office needed time to work through the detail.
The AFP also remained tight-lipped, saying it would be inappropriate to comment while the report was before the ACT Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the AFP lost a last-hour attempt to delay publication of the report on Friday afternoon.
Posted by JR at 9:54 AM
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
<i>Email from a member of the public</i>
This incident didn't happen to me but to my elderly parents.
My father is 69 years old. He was driving along with my 65 year old mother. When they came to a red light they stopped and an unmarked police car stopped next to them. When the light changed my dad drove off knowing he had to merge and did so safely in front of the unmarked police car.
The car followed my parents for maybe 30 seconds before turning their lights on and signaling for my father to pull over. There was a male police officer and a female police officer. The male approached my father's car on the drivers side and was extremely abrupt and rude, accusing my father of speeding. My father denied this saying that he most definitely did not speed. The male police officer proceeded to tell my father that he was going 80 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. This was incorrect as the entire road is 80 km/h the whole way.
Again my father denied that he was speeding. My father asked for the male officer to give him his name twice and both times the officer refused. My mother who was sitting in the passenger seat leant over and assured the officer that my father had not been speeding. The officer replied by telling my mother to shut up and sit back in her seat.
My mother is a petite lady and was quite shaken after being spoken to in such a manner. Again the male police officer was telling my father he had been speeding and indicated that he had "everything he needed" to give my father a ticket. My father, at this point somewhat offended on my mother's behalf asked if this had anything to do with him taking off faster than the police car at the traffic light, to which the male officer became quite irate to the point the female officer, who had stayed by the police car, called out for the male officer to just leave it and to 'let's go'.
After a few threatening words to the effect of the male police officer watching my dad from now on, he finally went back to his police car and they sped off.
As you can imagine when I was told by my mother what had happened I was absolutely disgusted with the way my parents had been treated. This is how the police chooses to conduct themselves? It is no wonder that no one trusts the police to do the right thing anymore. I myself have had bad experiences too where I was belittled and made to feel like I wasn't even a worthy human being for them to treat right.
The QLD Police force has to start looking at who they give the badge to because I think the power goes to some officers' heads and they treat us civilians almost like cattle to be pushed around and intimidated. Something needs to be done!
Posted by JR at 8:09 AM
Thursday, May 1, 2014
A mentally ill university student who was shot and killed by a police officer did not brandish a knife threateningly before being shot as the officer claimed but was the victim of a "hasty and precipitous" act by an officer who was not properly trained, a coroner had found.
Elijah Holcombe, 24, died after being shot once in the chest by Senior Constable Andrew Rich in an Armidale laneway on June 2, 2009.
Mr Holcombe was suffering from a mental health breakdown characterised by episodes of paranoia and delusions when Senior Constable Rich and Senior Constable Greg Dufty were asked to find him and a car he had taken from his father the day before.
When the plain-clothes police officer, Constable Rich, found and then chased Mr Holcombe, the victim grabbed a bread knife from a cafe and ran into a laneway.
The officer said he told Mr Holcombe to drop the knife and then fired a single, fatal shot.
Constable Rich said he was acting in self-defence, as the young man had come towards him brandishing the knife.
But, on Thursday, NSW Coroner Mary Jerram rejected the claim that the young man had been acting aggressively.
"Most of those who witnessed the incident said they saw behaviour [by Elijah] that was passive or non-aggressive throughout," Ms Jerram said. "Those who saw the bread knife said it was dangling limply from his hand."
Ms Jerram said Constable Rich's decision to chase Elijah after first speaking to him a few streets from where the shooting occurred, was based on "spurious and spontaneous" reasons.
The officer should have called his station which would no doubt have made him aware of the broad warning to police that Elijah was "extremely scared of police".
Instead, the officer decided at this point, without cause, that he needed to arrest Elijah, claiming later that, after observing the young man's demeanour, he was concerned for his safety and that of others. "Elijah's demeanour was not a basis for depriving him of his liberty," Ms Jerram said.
"It is clear that police have not been properly trained in how to deal with people who are suffering from a mental illness.
"Rich had participated in a one-hour lecture as a trainee officer and later a couple of online tutorials."
She acknowledged that NSW Police was in the process of rolling out a full-day workshop on dealing with the mentally ill.
Speaking outside court, Elijah's father Jeremy Holcombe and his lawyer called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to reconsider its previous decision not to lay any charges in relation to the matter.
"It has been five years since we lost our beautiful son, brother and friend," said Mr Holcombe, choking back tears. "The allegation that Elijah had to be destroyed in order to protect the safety of another person had never been accepted by those who knew him best."
Mr Holcombe said that Senior Constable Rich had consistently refused to repeat his allegation, that Elijah had threatened him, under oath and with the potential for cross-examination.
"We have always maintained that Senior Constable Rich is entitled to the presumptions of innocence but we ask 'what about Elijah's right?'" Mr Holcombe said.
"We were unable to protect Elijah from harm but we remain committed to protecting his reputation. "We must once again respectfully ask the NSW DPP to reconsider this matter for criminal proceedings."
Posted by JR at 5:33 PM
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
A NSW POLICEMAN was charged yesterday with raping a young child.
The Southern Region senior constable was charged with aggravated sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10.
He also faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Despite the seriousness of the charges it took police four days to publicly release details.
The senior constable was handed a court attendance notice on Thursday but a media release about the charges were not released publicly until 9.07pm last night
A NSW police spokesperson said the reason for the delay was “internal approval processes”, which must go to Assistant Commissioner level before being approved.
“As per NSW Police protocol, a media release was issued once the appropriate approval processes were completed.”
A NSW Police spokeswoman declined to confirm the officer’s age or if he had been stood down.
He will appear in Goulburn Local Court on 18 June.
Posted by JR at 8:26 PM
Saturday, April 5, 2014
<i>Video at link</i>
THIS is the video ex-football star Campbell Brown says shows he copped a “coathanger” from Gold Coast police.
Brown says the CCTV footage proves officers were out of bounds when they arrested him at a Broadbeach nightclub earlier this year.
Police last week dropped charges of obstructing police and attempting to force his way back into East nightclub during a night of celebrations after his horse Sweet Idea won the Magic Millions Trophy race in January.
Police initially claimed the former Gold Coast Suns player had shoulder-charged them.
But Brown has accused police of fabricating charges against him. “Police basically made up a story,’’ he told News Corp Australia last week.
“We caught them out by getting the CCTV footage of what actually happened. To be brutally honest, that was an absolute disgrace. They (police) had to throw out the case in embarrassment.’’
A police statement of facts, obtained by The Courier-Mail, alleges Brown was refused entry to East, where he had been drinking with friends, but was argumentative and refused to leave.
But his lawyer, Chris Nyst, said the CCTV footage showed “quite clearly that the incident did not occur in the way asserted by police”.
Mr Nyst said the footage showed Brown apparently waiting peacefully outside the nightclub while a friend went inside to retrieve the ex-footballer’s credit card.
It then shows Brown later being led down an alleyway by police, thrown to the ground and handcuffed after his friend becomes agitated.
“Once I had the opportunity to review the footage, it was immediately apparent to me it did not support the police version of events,’’ Mr Nyst said.
“I brought that footage to the attention of the chief prosecutor, whereupon he promptly — and in my view very sensibly — agreed to discontinue the prosecution.’’
Mr Nyst said police claims they withdrew the charges because of a lack of clarity in the footage “are simply not correct”.
“This case is a good example of why people should not prejudge such matters,’’ he said. “Brown copped a lot of sledging from people who knew nothing about the charges. We have a presumption of innocence, and this is a timely reminder of what good sense that makes.’’
Brown was sacked by the Suns after breaking teammate Steven May’s jaw on a pre-season trip to the US last November.
Note: A coathanger is a dangerous high tackle in Australian rules football, Rugby League, and Rugby Union. It occurs when a running player is stopped by an arm to the chest or neck and usually gets knocked backward onto their back. ...
Posted by JR at 12:58 PM
Monday, February 3, 2014
THE freckled face of 13-year-old Jordan Rice made headlines around the world when he died with his mother in a flash flood that hit Toowoomba three years ago.
Blond-haired Jordan's final selfless act, urging a rescuer to save his little brother Blake before him, touched hearts everywhere, and moved Prince William to fly to Queensland to console his family.
But this is a story of what happens when the cameras go away and a family is left to pick up the pieces. I
It is also a story about the grim undercurrent of suspicion remaining between the survivors and authorities they feel compounded their troubles, in the wake of intense media attention.
It begins with the triple-0 call made by Donna Rice, 43, at 1.50pm on January 10, 2011, as she sat in her stalled Mercedes at a red light in a main street of Toowoomba with floodwaters swirling around her wheels. Jordan and Blake, 11, were in the back seat.
A coronial inquest found the man who answered Donna's call, Senior Constable Jason Wheeler "did not treat her call with the seriousness it warranted and did not treat her with respect". That's putting it mildly.
Wheeler chastised Donna for driving into floodwaters, when in fact the coroner found she had cautiously stopped in shallow water while other cars forged ahead.
But the water rose unusually fast and within minutes engulfed the car, forcing Donna and her boys onto the roof.
When Donna asked Wheeler to call a tow truck, he retorted: "You ring the tow truck company yourself."
He assigned Donna's call a low priority, and no help was dispatched.
Seven minutes later Jordan rang triple-0: "We're nearly drowning, hurry up please."
By then, two passing strangers Warren McErlean and Chris Skehan were risking their lives. Warren, 41, was knocked over twice in the swift-running water.
When Chris reached the car, Warren recalls Jordan and his mother urged him to take Blake.
"After Jordan told the rescuer to take me first, the guy said, 'C'mon little man, it will be OK'," Blake testified.
Chris passed the boy to Warren, who carried him to safety. But by the time he made it back to Donna and Jordan, the water had risen so fast the car was washed away. Chris managed to grab hold of a power pole but Donna and Jordan drowned.
It was a horrendous scene, watched by a screaming Blake.
But what happened next only compounded the grief.
Donna's partner and the father of her four boys, John Tyson, 49, still burns about police allegations that Jordan urged his mother to drive through the floodwaters, a claim later rejected by the coroner.
Police also claimed Donna displayed no urgency when talking to triple-0, and that emergency calls that day were handled "brilliantly".
John alleged in the Queensland's Floods Commission that 17 days after his wife and son died, he was heavied by a police inspector, who told him not to speak to the media about the triple-0 calls.
The officer did not return our calls but at the commission denied threatening John, and tendered the transcript of a recording he made of their conversation on a wristwatch recorder.
The partial transcript and audio, stored in the Queensland State Archives, do not show any threats made.
John says the transcript is incomplete and the officer's secret recording indicates an adversarial approach.
In any case, after the tragedy, John was beset by problems and felt abandoned by his hometown. He lost his plastering business, and took the $145,000 insurance money to the Gold Coast to start afresh with Blake, now 13.
He works as a labourer but struggles to pay the mortgage on his new house, and may have to return to Toowoomba.
Posted by JR at 1:20 PM