Friday, December 2, 2011

Another thug cop gets off lightly

Why wasn't he charged with assault?

A QUEENSLAND police officer demoted for the wrongful arrest of a female officer, with whom he was romantically linked, has won an application to have his disciplinary period halved.

The Queensland Court and Administrative Tribunal has allowed serving police officer Mark McKenzie's appeal to reduce his demotion, from sergeant to senior constable, from two years to one year.

QCAT president Justice Alan Wilson and judicial member James Thomas, QC, in a just published 10-page decision, allowed Constable McKenzie's appeal against disciplinary action taken against him by acting Queensland Police Commissioner Tony Wright.

Commissioner Wright found Constable McKenzie, a sergeant at the time of the incident, had "inappropriately and forcibly detained" fellow Mount Isa officer Constable Jane Moran on March 1, 2008.

Justice Wilson and Mr Thomas’s decision means Constable McKenzie would not have to incur an expected impost of $23,000 lost in wages.

In February this year The Courier-Mail revealed Constable McKenzie lost an application to overturn an early 2009 decision to demote him after an internal disciplinary investigation and hearing.

QCAT member Joanne Browne, in a 21-page decision released in November last year, said: "Investigations have identified that whilst off duty you (McKenzie) became involved in an incident at police accommodations at Stanley Street, Mount Isa, where you detained Ms Moran."

She said he grabbed Ms Moran, forced her face-down on to a bed, handcuffed her and told her that she was being detained for domestic violence.

"Your actions resulted in Jane Sonya Moran sustaining injuries, including a fracture of the right eye socket," Ms Browne said.

"The QPS having found the charge (of inappropriately and forcibly detaining Ms Moran) to be substantiated, ordered McKenzie be reduced in rank from sergeant . . . to senior constable for a period of two years, effective from February 2010."

Constable McKenzie applied to QCAT to review the QPS findings and his demotion, on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive.

QCAT was told both officers became involved in a romantic relationship while living in separate QPS units at Mount Isa.

The tribunal heard conflicting versions of the March, 2008, incident, in which it was alleged Constable McKenzie feared Ms Moran might stab him after being awoken by her while he was asleep in his unit.

He said he then tried to subdue Ms Moran using police handcuffs to restrain her.

But Ms Browne, in her findings, said she agreed with the QPS determination and sanction, with his conduct not meeting community standards.

"The tribunal finds . . . the conduct of SC McKenzie is of such a nature as to erode public confidence in the police service and the sanction imposed was therefore appropriate," she said.

In September Justice Wilson and Mr Thomas, in reducing Constable McKenzie’s disciplinary period, said the original "penalty was too harsh."

"Regard should ... (have been given) to the fact that the (Constable McKenzie) has performed good service both before and after the incidents," he said.

"There does not seem to be any realistic chance, or discernible risk, of any repetition of the incident in question.

"All things considered we are persuaded that the present penalty was too heavy and that, in the interests of consistency, it should be replaced with a reduction in rank from Sergeant … to Senior Constable … for a period of one year."


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