Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another crooked NSW cop

A former NSW detective breached the community's trust in police by carrying out a string of illegal acts, but he was not as corrupt as Mark Standen, a court has heard.

Christopher Laycock is facing a sentencing hearing in the NSW District Court more than seven years since the allegations against him were first raised in the Police Integrity Commission.

Laycock, the son of former Assistant Commissioner John Laycock, has pleased guilty to five counts relating to theft and corruption - including two counts of aggravated breaking and entering, fraud, illegally taking information from a police database, and lying to the PIC.
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The court today heard Laycock, who had been commended in the force prior to his offending, committed his crimes out of resentment after being injured.

Laycock's barrister - former Supreme Court justice Greg James, QC - submitted that as a result of his injury, Laycock set about committing "opportunistic" crimes, motivated by "a willingness to exploit his job and the trust in that job".

Mr James said there was no doubt his client's offending was "a serious breach of trust" that the community deserved to have in the police force.

"However, it's not in the same category as either Standen's case, or [former detective inspector Nelson] Chad's case ... those who have commenced a continuous, organized activity such as the importation of drugs in which Standen was involved, or the long-term and highly nefarious activities Chad was involved with," he said.

Standen, former assistant director of the NSW Crime Commission, was convicted and sentenced last year over a conspiracy to import and supply a commercial quantity of drugs, using his law enforcement position to pervert the course of justice.

The late Nelson Chad was accused of a variety of crimes including loading up criminals and having inappropriate dealings with members of the underworld.

Crown Prosecutor John Powers took issue with the description of Laycock's crimes being simply "opportunistic".

The crimes for which Laycock is to be sentenced all involve "substantial planning, involvement of others, illegal financial gain and then on no fewer than three occasions at the inquiry into his activities he gave false evidence".

He said the crimes must be punished by "a substantial term of imprisonment".

Mr James submitted Laycock's incarceration would be more difficult due to his status as a former policeman, so urged the court to apply a shorter non-parole period, and a longer term of supervised parole.

In one theft, in July 2004, Laycock went to a man's home and pretended he was conducting police business in order to steal $11,000.

On another occasion, in December 2003, he took $23,500 from a man's home in the inner Sydney suburb of Chiswick after breaking in.

Laycock has admitted that he lied to the commission in October 2004 when he said he did not have a corrupt relationship with another former police officer, when he knew the opposite to be true.

Judge Jonathan Williams revoked bail and remanded Laycock in custody ahead of him delivering the sentence next Thursday.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

W.A. Police crooks again

A LAW professor and his female companion, who were arrested and tasered in Fremantle, have launched a civil lawsuit against three police officers and the State over the incident.

Charges against University of WA assistant professor of law Robert Cunningham and the women, Catherine Atoms, were dismissed on April 29 last year.

As first revealed on PerthNow's iPad app tonight, they are now claiming unspecified damages for what they describe as police brutality.

A magistrate previously ruled their arrest on November 2, 2008, was unjustified and unlawful, and accused police witnesses of collusion.

Fremantle-based police officers Simon Traynor, Peter James Clark and Glenn Alexander Caldwell have been named in a District Court writ, which was lodged in October.

Mr Cunningham and Ms Atoms are claiming damages for personal injuries sustained at the time of the incident and afterwards.

They claim the officers:

*Breached a duty of care owed to them.

*Breached their statutory duty.

*Assaulted them.

*Falsely imprisoned them.

They are also claiming interest at a rate of six per cent per year.

Three police inquiries found no wrongdoing but the Corruption and Crime Commission’s Parliamentary Inspector Christopher Steytler found evidence of police misconduct.

In the lead up to his trial, CCTV footage of police tasering the pair was stolen from Mr Cunningham’s university office before police presented edited footage of the incident in court.

The chain of events raised suggestions police had tampered with the evidence, Mr Steytler found.

In September, Labor MP Tony Buti alleged police were trying to put pressure on Ms Atoms by claiming officers went to her house in 2009 and tried to intimidate her.

“The police officer tells her ‘your car has been involved in a hit and run accident’, she had no idea what he was talking about,” he said at the time.

Mr Buti called for the officer’s actions to be investigated.

The same month, Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan referred the matter back to the CCC.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Two Victoria Police officers could face criminal charges following coroner's investigation into deadly chase

TWO police constables face possible criminal charges after a coroner found they lied to a series of investigations about their involvement in a deadly police chase. The coroner, Peter White, also called for mandatory real-time video and "live" feed recording of all police vehicle pursuits.

Shane Bennett, 19, died after being chased by police through Seaford in 2008.

As first revealed by the Herald Sun, crucial elements of sworn statements of the two officers chasing Mr Bennett, Sen-Constables Michael Bednarczyk and Cameron Orr, were proved false through the use of GPS data.

In a Victorian first, investigators and international experts took the data from the officers' vehicle to prove they were going much faster than they told several inquiries - including an ESD inquiry, an OPI probe and a coronial hearing.

Data proved they were travelling at 177km/h in a 60km/h zone through Seaford streets before Mr Bennett later ran a red light and hit another car - killing him and leaving an innocent driver maimed.

The coroner:

ACCUSED the constables of turning a "blind eye" to their dangerous speeds before Mr Bennett crashed and died.

DID not believe the constables' evidence and referred them to the DPP.

ACCUSED them of deliberately ignoring command calls to stop chasing Mr Bennett.

MADE four recommendations that call for greater independence of internal police investigations.

CALLED for GPS terminals to be placed in every police car to feed live data back to command centres.

Sen-Constables Bednarczyk and Orr could face serious criminal charges, possibly including endangering life causing death and reckless driving.

Mr White rejected their statements that they were not aware of the speeds they were travelling, which were also not told to the chase controller, who ended the chase when he learned the speeds were over 120km/h.

"At all relevant times both officers were broadly aware of the speeds they were travelling and deliberately turned a blind eye to this issue," he said.

Mr White said the ESD's original investigation was unsatisfactory and that Mr Bennett's death was a devastating loss.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tasered man sues West Australian police

THE man suing bashed policeman Matt Butcher claims he has lost $140,000 in income and will never be able to return to work after the constable tasered him in a pub car park.

For the first time, details of 59-year-old Robert McLeod's civil action against the maimed policeman and the State Government can be revealed.

In a statement of claim filed with the District Court and obtained by The Sunday Times this week, Mr McLeod claims Constable Butcher is liable for the loss and damages arising from "wrongful battery" when the officer fired his police-issue Taser at him during a brawl outside the Old Bailey Tavern in Joondalup in 2008.

He claims Constable Butcher was not legally allowed to use force "likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm".

Mr McLeod says he has suffered post-traumatic stress and has needed counselling since the brawl involving himself, his sons Barry and Scott, and patrons.

Constable Butcher was one of several officers called to the scene. He was left partially paralysed after Barry McLeod felled him with a "flying headbutt".

Barry McLeod escaped a conviction for assault despite his actions being recorded on a mobile phone, claiming he had acted in defence of his father, fearing he would die from the Taser because he had a heart condition. His father and brother were also acquitted of assault charges.

Lawyers for the McLeods argued the police used "unnecessary and excessive force" against them.

Though Constable Butcher deployed a Taser on Robert McLeod, who has a history of heart trouble, police have maintained it did not activate. Mr McLeod later suffered a heart attack.

The statement of claim seeks:

* Unspecified special damages and personal injury damages.

* Interest of 6 per cent on any damages payout dating back to February 4, 2008

* All costs of the court action.

Mr McLeod also is claiming other special damages, but those details will not be provided until prior to the trial, which is due in coming months.

The claim says Mr McLeod was the proprietor of a business that earned $35,000 a year before the incident and since then he has been unable to do his job and will remain unfit to work "until his normal date of retirement".

It says he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after he received eight fractured ribs, puncture wounds to his left abdomen and was three days in a coma.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

How Victorian police spent $3.5 million on 250 taxpayer-funded credit cards

VICTORIA police have used taxpayer-funded credit cards to buy gifts, fast food, doughnuts, artwork and spa resort accommodation.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the Sunday Herald Sun show more than $3.5 million was spent on 250 publicly funded corporate credit cards in the past three financial years.

Among more than 13,000 transactions are tens of thousands of dollars spent on flowers, alcohol and fast food.

According to police rules, the Visa cards, held by senior sworn and unsworn members, are meant to be used for "critical incident procurement".

Transaction reports show the cards have been used for payments to cinemas, ten-pin bowling, concert tickets, golf clubs, go karting, magazine subscriptions, bedding, jewellery and even a company that sells dolls' houses and accessories.

The bank statements span 325 pages and show $1588 spent on glass artwork, $22,464.79 on flowers, $11,221.39 on fast food and $3263.67 on alcohol.

The Chief Commissioner's office has spent almost $150,000 on 17 credit cards, including on chauffeur-driven cars, glass artwork and stays at country spa resorts and the five-star Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.

Other police departments have spent public funds on massages, Mornington Peninsula's hot springs, thousands at golf clubs and online golf stores and more than $3000 on artwork.

"Cardholders must always act in the interests of the state, as opposed to their own personal interests or convenience and must perform their duties honestly, with skill and care," the Department of Treasury and Finance rules state.

Some transactions show obvious work-related expenses, such as a $390 purchase at a ski shop for tyre chains for a search and rescue operation.

Victoria Police said it carried out regular reviews and "there have been no reportable breaches". But it admits knowing of one private purchase of around $20 that was made inadvertently. The money was repaid.

The documents also show more than $6000 was spent at Barbecues Galore, hundreds at ticket agencies and the Home Barista Institute, $800 at Ace Karts and at least three purchases at baby gift stores.

At least one card has a maximum spending limit of $25,000. Most have a maximum limit of between $2000 and $3000. The highest transaction was for $5892.08 at a hotel in mid-December last year.

Other purchases include $1216 at the Village cinema at Crown and $386.30 at St Kilda Sea Baths followed by $412.80 at the nearby Beachcomber Cafe on Christmas Eve.

There are also payments for a $758.80 roller that picks up nuts and $59.70 at Koorong Books - a Christian bookshop in Blackburn South.

Police Association Secretary Greg Davies said the purchases "beggar belief". "These cards do help members book conference rooms at short notice and things like that but I am damned if I know why glass artworks, massages, spa resorts and cinemas are being booked out," Sen-Sgt Davies said. "It beggars belief that these purchases are being made at a time when operational police struggle to find a working computer ... in order to do their job.

"I would hope Chief Commissioner Ken Lay tightens the reins on this spending."

The transactions include $1588 at Kirra Gallery and $345 at Madison Spa Resort.

On Wednesday, the Sunday Herald Sun asked Victoria Police to explain 70 purchases. Spokeswoman Anna Erbrederis said the force would explain only 20 that it had selected.

Of those, massages were given to data-entry staff, artwork was bought for Box Hill Police Station, alcohol was bought for conferences and functions and three gifts were bought. There was also $2248 spent at Macedon Spa for "work-related travel".

Krispy Kreme doughnuts, karaoke, sporting memorabilia and $96.78 at Harrods in London was also deemed correct use of the credit cards by Victoria Police.

"All transactions were for Victoria Police work-related expenditure and none were in regard to personal use," a spokeswoman said.

"The purpose of the corporate card is to make simple purchases. It is considered easier to use the corporate card and a lot more effective than having employees pay for the goods and then reimburse them.

"Any Victoria Police permanent employee - sworn or unsworn - can request a corporate card with justification and is subject to the approval by local managers and department or region heads. As a general rule, a corporate card should be used for one-off, ad hoc purchases, rather than for the payment of ongoing contracts and services. There are clear consequences if cardholders misuse their cards or if there is unauthorised use."

She added the credit cards can be used for flight and hotel bookings if "out of normal business hours", but it is not encouraged.