Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A corrupt police watchdog in Victoria maligns an innocent man

The powerful Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has been exposed for inflating evidence, bias and schooling a key witness. In his harshest criticism of the organisation, the Inspector of the PIC, Peter Moss QC, said the commission had been unremittingly unfair and had blackened the reputation of former detective sergeant Brad Hosemans.

It is Mr Moss's 11th report in a row that has been scathing of the police force's own corruption watchdog.

Senior police were yesterday said to be furious at the behaviour of the PIC, whose head, Commissioner John Pritchard, announced last week he was quitting his post a year early.

Mr Moss said the PIC set up Operation Rani to inquire into the police investigation of the disappearance of Bathurst shop assistant Janine Vaughan in 2001 based on a "crude and derogatory" anonymous letter which implicated Mr Hosemans. Mr Moss said that, in its final report, the PIC did not acknowledge there was no evidence to support any claims made in that letter.

It also never clearly stated there was no credible evidence Mr Hosemans had ever met Ms Vaughan, 31, that he had ever spoken to her or had ever bought her flowers and that he had nothing to do with her disappearance after she left a Bathurst nightclub in December, 2001.

The only other evidence he was involved in the disappearance was a secret 47-year-old witness called RA1. The woman came forward more than four years after the incident to claim she had seen a distressed woman bound and in the passenger seat of a red hatchback being driven by Mr Hosemans.

She only gave evidence in private, without Mr Hosemans present, when Mr Moss said the presiding commissioner asked her questions to see how she would manage the answers if asked in an open hearing. "If we are not prepared for them [answers], we can't look after you and we don't get the job done," the presiding commissioner told her.

Mr Moss slammed the PIC for releasing the woman's claims in a media release even though they knew she was unreliable, for not allowing Mr Hosemans to answer the allegations and for changing claims in their report.

Mr Moss upheld all seven of Mr Hosemans' complaints. He now operates a water taxi on Sydney Harbour and said the inquiry had devastated him: "When you are so publicly humiliated, that never leaves you."


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