Monday, January 31, 2011

Australia's crooked Federal cops again

Officers from the Australian Federal Police allegedly stole and concealed documents that could have helped a former pilot and businessman fight allegations he had raped a 14-year-old girl in PNG.

Fred Martens, a millionaire working in Papua New Guinea, served more than 2½ years in prison after being convicted under Australian child sex tourism laws. But after his family found some of the missing documents he earned a rare second appeal in November 2009 and had his conviction quashed.

In two multimillion-dollar compensation claims Mr Martens, 62, is now suing the Australian and PNG governments, and members of the AFP and PNG police, over their alleged misconduct. The claims allege his false prosecution led to the failure of his businesses and the loss of PNG assets - including 11 boats, six planes and dozens of construction and earth-moving vehicles.

This is the latest in a series of embarrassing cases involving the AFP, which last month settled a claim with the Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef. Former Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib has also received compensation from the federal government, while actor Paul Hogan is considering suing the government over its failed prosecution of him on tax matters.

Mr Martens accuses an AFP agent of perjury, trying to cover up problems with the investigation, perverting the course of justice and malicious prosecution. The officer had tried to "amass evidence to bolster a case against [Mr Martens] regardless of its truth or falsity", "deliberately ignored obvious inconsistencies" in the girl's statements, and agreed with PNG officers to conceal various documents, the damages claim says.

The girl, who cannot be named, said Mr Martens had twice - in March and mid-September 2001 - flown her from her home in Western Province to the capital, Port Moresby, where she applied for a passport and visa to attend school in Australia. She said during the second trip she stayed at his home, where she was assaulted. But Mr Martens insisted he had only flown her to Port Moresby once, in August 2001, and that they had stayed in separate rooms at the home of his friend. He also denies he ever assaulted her.

Soon after his arrest in August 2004 he had asked investigating AFP agents to obtain various records and documents about his flights and her passport application, which he said would prove the girl's statement was wrong.

But many of these documents, which could prove the flight was in August, were never produced at his trial. He was convicted and lost an appeal, but was later granted a second review.

The missing records that formed the centre of the case, and compensation claim, are:

The girl's certified passport application.

Plane refuelling records.

Civil aviation flight invoices.

Australian immigration records of his movements.

The AFP officer stated in an affidavit that the girl's passport application could not be produced because it had been stolen from the PNG immigration office. But a PNG police officer later swore two AFP officers had removed the application, months before Mr Martens was charged.

A statement from a doctor who certified the photos taken for the girl's passport application, confirming when she was in Port Moresby, was also never produced in court, according to his PNG compensation claim.

PNG police said they had inquired about refuelling records, but they approached the wrong fuel company in the wrong town and no records were provided, the compensation claim alleges.

The AFP officer swore PNG's Civil Aviation Authority had advised it had not kept records of the flight. But Mr Martens's partner later obtained records of the plane's take-offs, movements and landings over the counter from the authority.

In the appeal judgment, the court found it reflected poorly on the AFP that it had failed to find the flight records. "Had [they] been put into evidence at the trial it would not have been open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the petitioner was guilty."

The AFP officer also said that Australian immigration files showed Mr Martens was in PNG at the time of both alleged flights, attaching a typed version of Australian records. But Mr Martens later obtained the full records under Australian freedom-of-information laws showing he was in Australia at the time of the alleged first flight and near the Indonesian border at the time of the alleged rape in September.

The Australian damages claim also says a complaint by his family to the AFP's standards and ethics unit was investigated by one of the agents who had been seconded to PNG for the original investigation. The complaint was dismissed.

In a brief response to the Australian claim, the Australian government and one AFP agent argue his claim was "irregular", had been laid under the wrong law and in the wrong court. An application to have the claim thrown out of court is to be heard in Cairns in mid-February.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A crooked "Middle Eastern" cop in NSW

Probably a Lebanese Muslim

AS A senior police officer, George Kahila was supposed to uphold and enforce the law.

But the well-respected detective sergeant also ran a side business in mortgage brokering which involved falsifying tax returns and payslips to get home loans for clients who would otherwise be refused.

Kahila, 39, secured more than $3 million over three years from lenders including the ANZ bank, Homeside Lending and Macquarie Mortgages, plus $690,000 for himself and his wife, by applying for "low doc" loans.

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One client was an undischarged bankrupt and Kahila put the loan in the client's sister's name to hide assets from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee.

Following a covert investigation by the fraud squad, Kahila found himself in further trouble when he lied about his actions at a Police Integrity Commission hearing in July 2007.

Last year he formally pleaded guilty to 14 offences committed between June 2003 and July 2006. The court heard he told prosecutors that low doc loans were "virtually an invitation" for false or embellished applications and were the "norm" in the industry at the time.

Each of the applicants would not have met the lenders' requirements for a loan because of their income or credit history, but he felt they could meet the repayments.

In the District Court last week, Judge Michael King said as Kahila had been a police officer for 12 years before the first offence, "he must have had a clear understanding of the criminal law and known that he was committing criminal offences".

Kahila had risen to the rank of detective sergeant at Parramatta local area command and had worked in the Middle Eastern organised crime squad. He had been awarded a Commissioner's Certificate of Merit and was well-respected within the force until he resigned in July 2006.

Kahila said an incident in 2000, where he was stabbed in the stomach with a screwdriver while attempting to arrest a thief, had resulted in mental-health and alcohol problems. He began arranging mortgages a year later in an attempt to leave the force.

He was sentenced to 14 months in jail but will serve an intensive correction order, including drug and alcohol testing.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cross-dressing policeman Peter Karras caught out by officers

The Green Valley cops are a choice lot. Read this

A CROSS-dressing police officer was caught alone in his car in a black ladies G-string, bra and six-inch high heels while committing an "offensive act", a court heard yesterday.

With his uniform on the back seat, off-duty constable Peter Karras, 51, of Green Valley, thought a dark and secluded Punchbowl street, in western Sydney, was the perfect place to put on women's clothing and touch himself. But two officers patrolling the area spotted Karras about 10.40pm.

Documents tendered to Burwood Local Court yesterday revealed Karras was wearing a black ladies G-string that exposed his penis, as well as a black bra, several gold necklaces and matching bracelets and six-inch high heels.

The officers also found his police uniform and police-issued gun belt on the back seat of his car, the court heard.

Karras was charged with behaving in an offensive manner in a public place and pleaded guilty in Burwood Local Court yesterday.

He was convicted and fined $500 plus court costs. A police spokesman said Karras had served as a constable for six years.


NSW police tardiness meant bashing accused granted bail

A MAN accused of bashing another over the head with a sandwich press, leaving him unconscious, with possible brain injury and needing to be revived, has been granted bail because police took too long to lay charges.

Django O'Hara was serving a 15-year prison term for murder when he allegedly attacked former kickboxer Adam Watt, who was on remand on drugs charges in Silverwater jail, on October 1, 2009. The attack was captured on CCTV but Mr O'Hara was released at the end of his sentence in March 2010.

It was not until October 2010 that police issued a warrant for his arrest over the attack, and he was charged in November, when police were notified he had been admitted to hospital with five stab wounds.

The warrant states police believe he has connections with bikie groups, is the suspect in an unrelated crime in Kings Cross and had threatened to kill Mr Watt and his family members, but it appears this information was not presented during the bail application.

Mr O'Hara is charged with wounding causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder Mr Watt.

Last Thursday, Magistrate Janet Wahlquist found there were exceptional circumstances why Mr O'Hara - a repeat offender facing a serious offence where there was a presumption against bail - should be granted bail. "The primary factor really is the delay in charging [him]," the Parramatta Local Court magistrate said.

She said Mr O'Hara had "made a life for himself" since leaving jail; was needed by his father, who was suffering a terminal illness; had committed no major offences since his release, and had restricted access to facilities to prepare his case in jail.

Mr O'Hara, who represented himself, told the court: "I was released six months [after the alleged attack] which allowed me to get on with my life after 15 years in custody."

A spokeswoman for the Director of Public Prosecutions and police said they were reviewing the decision to grant bail.


Magistrate dismisses charges against teens because investigating Queensland cop was too slack to check committal hearing date

Slackness one expects from the Qld. wallopers but failure to present the case SEVEN times??

A MAGISTRATE dismissed charges against two teenagers accused of being part of a rolling street brawl-home invasion after finding the investigating policeman was "too slack" to get witnesses to a committal hearing today. An angry magistrate Chris Callaghan refused a police application to adjourn the committal hearing and discharged the two teenagers.

The teenagers, who are now 18 but were juveniles at the time, were allegedly involved in a street fight at Cleveland, in the bayside region, in November 2009. The fight later spilled over to a nearby house where up to eight teenage boys were involved.

In the Magistrates Court in Brisbane, the pair were to face a two-day committal hearing from today in which nine witnesses were listed to appear. However, Mr Callaghan was asked to adjourn the hearing because none of the witnesses were at court.

He refused the application and said it appeared the investigating officer had been too slack to check his computer and see the committal hearing was listed for today. Mr Callaghan said the matter had been adjourned on seven previous occasions and today's committal hearing had been set down three months ago.

He said the teenagers were charged in March last year and in the interests of justice they were entitled to have the evidence against them heard in a timely fashion. Likewise, it was the victims right to be able to give their evidence in a timely way.

Mr Callaghan refused the application and ordered the committal proceed. Police then offered no evidence and Judge Callaghan struck out the charges and discharged the teenagers.

He also ordered that his reasons be recorded and provided if the teenagers were recharged and a stay proceeding was brought by their lawyers.


Friday, January 14, 2011

A crooked West Australian cop

A FORMER police officer has been charged with corruption and unlawfully accessing a police computer after allegedly passing information to people targeted by police.

The charges, by the police Internal Affairs Unit, arise from an incident in January 2010 when the officer was attached to the State Intelligence Division.

It will be alleged that the man communicated information obtained by him to persons associated with the target of a police operation. It will be further alleged that between May 2009 and January 2010, the accused accessed the details of people from the police computer and was not authorised to do so. The accesses are not alleged to be connected to the corruption offence and people associated with that operation.

The officer, who served on the force for six years, subsequently resigned in September 2010 after the Minister had approved the recommendation by the Commissioner of Police to remove him from the WA Police.

He will appear before the Perth Magistrate’s Court today.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S. Aust.: Victim's mum forced to 'do job of police'

This sounds just like the Qld. wallopers. Doing any work is anathema to them. They just want to cruise around big-noting themselves. I have twice provided my local cops with ID of offenders with no result

THE mother of an assault victim says she has been forced to do the work of police. She directed witnesses to provide statements and provided officers with a possible address for the suspects.

The victim, Richard, 17, stepped in to break up a fight outside a Redwood Park house on New Year's Eve, the mother says.

Three older men, described as being aged in their mid-to-late 30s and not invited to the party, watched the fight. Witnesses said they were carrying a baseball bat and nunchukkas. They also brought a rottweiler.

Richard said he helped one of the girls involved and that as he moved away, he was struck with the baseball bat by one of the men. It's also claimed that the rottweiler was set on other party-goers. The three men were later seen at a nearby address. Those details were handed to police, the mother said.

Richard was treated in hospital for facial injuries. He has undergone surgery and faces more treatment in coming months. Richard's mother said police had failed to contact a number of witnesses who had provided details.

She posted a page on her Facebook profile asking for witnesses and urging them to go to Holden Hill police station. "I feel like I am doing the job of police," she said. "I was angry, but also disillusioned about why it has taken so long and nothing had been done about it. "What about the (police getting) the baseball bat or any other evidence?"

Police yesterday said appropriate steps had been taken in the investigation and it was proceeding.

The victim made a statement at the Holden Hill police station on January 1 but no suspects were named at the time of reporting the incident, a police spokeswoman said.

Another assault, linked to the first one, was reported on January 3 and she said police would be interviewing witnesses late yesterday in relation to both assaults.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

W.A. police: Death of disabled man sparks custody concerns

THE death in custody of a one-armed Aboriginal man should be investigated by the state's corruption watchdog because police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.

A deaths in custody watch group says the disabled 51-year-old should have received immediate medical attention due to his poor health.

The man, who can be identified only as Mr Phillips for cultural reasons, died in the Kalgoorlie watch house early Saturday morning. He had been arrested and detained in the Goldfields town on Friday night.

Police said officers checked on him at 3.35am on Saturday and found him to be unwell. Officers administered first aid and CPR, and called for an ambulance, but when medics arrived they determined the man was dead.

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee deputy chairman Marc Newhouse said it was understood Mr Phillips, who'd had an arm and toes amputated and had an alcohol-abuse problem, was arrested and detained for breaching a move-on order.

"He was of extremely poor health. He should have been assessed medically straight away and either placed in hospital or in a sobering-up shelter," Mr Newhouse said.

Questions needed to be asked whether Mr Phillips was under 24/7 observation, whether he was on medication and whether police just believed he needed to "sleep it off", he said.

A full investigation by the WA Police Internal Affairs Unit was under way, and a report would be prepared for the coroner, police said.

But Mr Newhouse said the state's Corruption and Crime Commission should investigate the death, not police. Mr Newhouse said there were a lot of unanswered questions about the death, and "the community, particularly the Aboriginal community, does not have confidence in the police investigating themselves".

The deaths in custody watch group had long advocated an independent body to investigate deaths in custody, Mr Newhouse said. "The police response to that is, 'we're the only ones qualified to do it,' which is rubbish."

Mr Newhouse said that in December, Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan had called for the state's Inspector of Custodial Services to investigate deaths in police custody. Mr O'Callaghan had also wanted medical personnel to be on 24-hour call to assess those in custody. "That's extremely relevant for this most recent death in Kalgoorlie," Mr Newhouse said.

Police Minister Rob Johnson said he would not comment on the death due to the police inquiry.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Slack police work leads to man's death

A manifestly inadequate police response to a serious complaint left the complainants with the feeling that they had to seek justice themselves

A grandmnother allegedly orchestrated the murder of her friend and neighbour because she believed he had molested her grandchildren. Police will allege that 10 days after Adrian Trevett was cleared of indecently assaulting two children, aged one and two, his 46-year-old friend Karen Dawson conspired to murder him.

Officers found Mr Trevett's body at Sandy Hill in the Girard State Forest on Saturday, two months after he was reported missing.
The 62-year-old avid cyclist, who was believed to have been strangled, was covered with sticks and bushes.

New England detectives flew to Brisbane last week to arrest Dawson. She was charged with murder and made a brief appearance at the Armidale Local Court, where bail was refused.

Police arrested five other people, including Dawson's son and father of the grandchildren, Matthew Aquilina, yesterday morning after raids at Casino and Grafton. Three men and two women were being interviewed by investigators last night.

Deborah Grant, 32, made a brief appearance at Lismore Bail Court yesterday charged with being an accessory after the fact and concealing a serious indictable offence. Aquilina, 25, was charged with murder and will appear today.

Police will allege that Dawson, who had befriended Mr Trevett, drove to Rangers Hut on the Gwydir Highway at Glen Innes to pick him up on October 29 about 8.30am. The day before, Mr Trevett had completed an 80km bike ride from Glen Innes to the top of the Gibraltar Range in northern NSW.

Mr Trevett was allegedly driven to bushland, 30km from Tenterfield, where he was killed.

On October 19, police received a complaint alleging Trevett, described as a loner, had molested Dawson's two infant grandchildren. Police will allege Dawson, her son and his 29-year-old friend believed Mr Trevett was a pedophile despite being told by police he had been cleared of indecently assaulting the children.

Mr Trevett was never interviewed by police about the alleged indecent assaults.

His brother Valentine described Mr Trevett as a "quiet man". The brothers grew up in Glen Innes and regularly spoke. "He never had a wife or any kids. He always kept to himself," he said. "He was a simple man. He loved his cycling and the seasonal work he did with his travelling fruit truck."


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dangerous reliance on flawed computer databases

Dumb cops treat them as an oracle when they should be treated as being no more reliable than any other kind of evidence

We humans have a persistent fear that the machines we endow with artificial intelligence will one day turn against us. Of course, deep down we know such concerns are irrational. Life is much easier if we accept that even though it might have burnt the bread, the toaster is basically on our side and doing its best.

Our natural instincts dulled, we let our guard down. And so, if you truly fear technology, expect to be dismissed as a Luddite or worse. I know all this, and yet I truly fear technology. Specifically, I fear how we rely on it; how we outsource our duty of care to computers that in fact rely on us to do their work properly.

When police and other law enforcement agencies, which have the power to deprive us of our liberty, place absolute trust in imperfect systems, the resulting injustice can be terrible and very difficult to remedy.

The Herald recently reported that a long-running glitch in the NSW government computer system is causing young people to be arrested and detained for breaching non-existent or expired bail conditions. Often these people must wait until they are brought before a court before they are released.

For more than three years, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Public Interest Law Clearing House and Legal Aid NSW have been trying to resolve this. But still the cases have mounted up, leading to the repeated injustice of wrongful detention and a government compensation bill that runs into millions of dollars.

Even when a detained youth has tried to explain the true situation - in one case, his mother offered to fax to the police court documents containing the correct information - the authorities have doggedly relied on the police IT system. By presuming their technology to be infallible, these errors have caused a significant injustice.

An IT system relies on people to input the data. But from time to time, we fallible humans enter the information wrongly; sometimes it doesn't go in at all. While it's convenient to assume the computer is always right, that assumption should never prevail over clear evidence to the contrary.

There is also another, more subtle problem with IT systems. Their design constrains our actions - often more effectively than any law ever could. This principle does not just apply to IT, but to other forms of design as well. Take, for example, road safety. If the government wants to limit drivers' speed on a suburban road to 40km/h, the conventional method would be to impose a speed limit. If policed rigorously, this will probably improve compliance, but many people would continue to speed.

A far more effective (and cheaper) solution is to change the design of the road: to build speed humps, roundabouts and so on. This can create total compliance because you physically can't drive over the speed limit.

The same is true in IT systems. This can be a good thing: a well-designed system will ensure that important considerations are not forgotten by public servants who are often busy and under pressure.

However, it also means your options can be limited by the choices made by the government's computer programmer. You can be prevented from doing something, not because the law prohibits it, but because there is no such option in the drop-down menu.

The tragic case of David Iredale, the young bushwalker who died in the Blue Mountains in 2006, is a case in point. When he realised he was lost and in trouble, David called the ambulance service from his mobile phone and was repeatedly asked by the operator to provide a street address. Being in the middle of the bush, he could not. Nevertheless, the operator stuck to the system as designed.

The inquest into David's death disclosed that the ambulance service's call-response system required a street address. The absurdity of requiring such information in all circumstances is manifest. Such situations are more common when we rely on rigid IT systems that do not allow for situations outside of those predicted by the original computer programmers.

Of course, the solution to these problems is not to abandon technology. Instead, we need to be more realistic about the strengths and limitations of the systems we rely on, and to ensure that they are carefully monitored so as not to induce injustice.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The charming Victoria police again

Cop brawl at railway station linked to drug corruption claim

ACCUSATIONS a colleague dealt drugs is suspected of sparking a wild fight between Victoria Police officers at a suburban railway station.

The Herald Sun believes bad blood began about a year ago when an officer from a suburban station officially reported a fellow member had tried to sell him drugs. The Ethical Standards Department opened an investigation into those claims. Police sources said the subject of the inquiry was unhappy at finding himself under scrutiny from the corruption investigators.

The rancour that had been generated turned physical when the member who had been accused of selling drugs and officers from the station of his accuser came across each other at an inner suburban hotel last month.

Words were exchanged between the parties and they left the pub soon after, allegedly to settle the matter elsewhere. The group converged at a nearby railway station where a bloody fracas erupted.

Security camera footage capturing much of the violence is being examined by investigators. Witnesses have also been interviewed about what they saw and events leading up to the fight.

One group of combatants was from a specialist unit of the force and the other from a busy suburban station.

Force command is believed to be deeply upset by the ugly confrontation and senior officers have been briefed to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated. ESD detectives are investigating the railway station fight, which left one policeman in the back of an ambulance with head and facial injuries. He has since been discharged from hospital.

It is believed all officers involved in the fighting were off duty. No internal or criminal charges have been laid over the incident. Victoria Police yesterday declined to comment on claims the drug allegation was linked to the violence.