Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top NSW cop wrote dishonest report to protect colleagues

Even though the victim was shot in the back by a panicky dickess Tracy, they still tried to lie their way out of it

ONE of the state's top homicide investigators engaged in "whitewashing" and "fabrication" in preparing a report into the police shooting of the mentally ill Sydney man Adam Salter, the Police Integrity Commission has heard.

And when Detective Inspector Russell Oxford was later informed by the NSW Crown Solicitor's Office that he would come under scrutiny over the report and should get a lawyer, he allegedly accused the office of having "an agenda" against NSW Police.

The revelations emerged during the sixth day of the commission's public hearings into the 2009 death of Mr Salter and the police's subsequent investigation.

In his final report, Inspector Oxford cleared all officers involved in the shooting of wrongdoing, finding they acted reasonably and appropriately given that Mr Salter was threatening one of them with a knife.

But late last year the NSW Deputy Coroner found that the 36-year-old was shot in the back while he was harming himself with a knife following a failed police operation.

The coroner described aspects of Inspector Oxford's investigation as "a disgrace" and found that he misrepresented the truth.

Inspector Oxford's final report into the shooting was based, in part, on the claim that the evidence of the four officers who witnessed the shooting was consistent with that of the three ambulance officers who were also there - that is, that Mr Salter grappled with a young officer in the moments before he was shot.

But during the course of the inquiry, the ambulance officers have given evidence that Mr Salter was some distance from the police officer and posed a threat only to himself.

Yesterday, Geoffrey Watson, SC, the counsel assisting the inquiry, accused Inspector Oxford of deliberately omitting the contradictory evidence in order to "whitewash" the incident.

"[By this point in the report] you're now just engaging in deliberate fabrication - that is just manifestly false, isn't it?" Mr Watson said. "You were not offering a genuine report at all, you were simply offering a whitewash."

Inspector Oxford denied this, arguing there were "a number of consistencies" between the versions of events given by the police and the ambulance officers.

Mr Watson also put it to Inspector Oxford that, upon receiving a letter from the Crown Solicitor's Office advising him to seek independent legal representation before last year's inquest into the shooting, he rang the office and berated one of its staff.

Inspector Oxford allegedly told the staff member: "I welcome the chance to give evidence … I have a lot to say about the Crown Solicitor's Office and their broader agenda."

He also allegedly said: "We have had nothing but criticisms from your office."

But Inspector Oxford denied he had tried to intimidate the staff member or her office. He said he had simply been venting frustration about not being given enough notice that he was going to come under criticism at the coronial inquiry.

Inspector Oxford was also questioned about why he did not obtain forensic evidence of the trajectory of the fatal bullet.

He replied: "I was satisfied with the examinations our people did at the crime scene … there was no doubt that the shooting was in close proximity to Adam Salter."


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