Sunday, April 17, 2011

NSW Police in conflict over boot remark

A POLICE officer allegedly threatened to kill a senior colleague after she publicly chastised him for having vomit on his boots.

Sergeant Trudi Zanella, 41, a part-time police education training officer, has taken out an interim apprehended violence order against Senior Constable David Thomas, 55, over the March 9 exchange, which followed a dawn patrol briefing at Cabramatta station. She told the officers to polish their boots, ''except for Dave Thomas. He has vomit on his boots''.

She claims at least three officers told her that as she left the briefing, Senior Constable Thomas allegedly said, ''She is that useless, she is only here three days a week. I may as well get a gun and shoot her.''
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Senior Constable Thomas was ordered to surrender his pistol and will appear in Bankstown Local Court on May 5 to defend the order. He has also been transferred to Camden police station pending its outcome, and Sergeant Zanella has reportedly taken stress leave.

The stoush has divided Cabramatta police station. Many officers have raised money to pay for Senior Constable Thomas's legal defence, and several officers have threatened to resign from the union over claims it has not offered adequate support to him.

Former Victorian detective turned criminal defence solicitor Ben Archbold and barrister Brian Murray, a former NSW police prosecutor, have confirmed they will represent Senior Constable Thomas.

In her AVO statement, Sergeant Zanella said Senior Constable Thomas was sitting in front of her before the start of the briefing.

''I noticed that his boots were not in a pristine professional state. I said to him, 'You need to put more polish on your boots.' '' She alleged Senior Constable Thomas replied: ''I have vomit on my boots. When was the last time you had vomit on your boots as you don't do anything anyway!''

She alleged she was later approached by an officer who said: ''I can't believe he threatened your life … He wants to shoot you.''

Senior Constable Thomas declined to comment when contacted by The Sun-Herald.

A spokesman for Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said Senior Constable Thomas's transfer to Camden was ''an administrative move'', not a disciplinary action.


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