Thursday, April 21, 2011

Police officer Martin Baxter fights drink-driving charge

Do we really want this thug on the road?

A POLICE officer accused of aggressive drink-driving while off-duty will not have his breath test admitted to court.

Senior Constable Martin Joseph Baxter, 48, of Kedron, cut off another car, gestured rudely at the driver, followed him home and confronted him while smelling of alcohol, Brisbane Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

Sen-Constable Baxter has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence on Webster Rd at Stafford, on Brisbane's northside, on January 16 this year.

The court yesterday heard evidence from the officer's then-girlfriend, who said he took a six-pack of alcoholic cans from her fridge on the day of the alleged offence, and from a staffer of the Edinburgh Castle Hotel, who said she served him that day.

But under cross-examination by Sen-Constable Baxter's defence lawyer Ruth O'Gorman, the staffer agreed she did not know whether he drove to the hotel.

Motorist Jonathan Faliguerho told the court he had been driving along Webster Rd when Sen-Constable Baxter cut him off and flipped him "the bird".

"I actually had to brake quite severely and the seatbelts locked up," he said. Mr Faliguerho said his girlfriend commented that the vehicle's driver "must be drunk".

The couple then drove back to their home at the Grange and Sen-Constable Baxter followed, the court heard. "He told me he was an off-duty police officer and showed me his hat," Mr Faliguerho said.

He said Sen-Constable Baxter had "glazy" eyes and he could smell alcohol, before he asked the officer whether he had been drinking. "He answered with a smirk and he said 'no'," Mr Faliguerho said.

After Sen-Constable Baxter left, Mr Faliguerho phoned the police with the officer's registration to ask whether he really was a police officer. "I didn't want him on the road if he was drunk," he said.

Police called Mr Faliguerho back after looking up the registration number, confirmed the man was a police officer and said they would find him.

Mr Faliguerho's girlfriend, Claudia Bonny, said she told her partner to keep his distance when they first encountered Sen-Constable Baxter on the road because she thought he might be under the influence.

Later Ms O'Gorman successfully challenged the admitting into evidence of Sen-Constable Baxter's breath test taken at the Stafford police station. She argued police had not provided the proper material to show the officer who administered the test had been properly delegated to do so.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You've got to have "panic or distress" in your voice for police emergency operators to take you seriously???

Amazing behaviour

A TOOWOOMBA man says his wife and son may still be alive if their initial triple-0 call during the flood crisis was handled by a different operator.

John Tyson, whose wife, Donna Rice, and 13-year-old son, Jordan, were swept away in the January 10 flash flood, disputed claims his wife sounded calm during the call.

Mr Tyson and son Blake, 10, sat in the public gallery as the Queensland floods inquiry heard distressing recordings of two triple-0 calls, one from Donna Rice and a later one from Jordan. The police officer who responded to the first triple-0 call repeatedly castigated Ms Rice for driving through a flooded intersection minutes before their deaths. The first, in which Ms Rice phoned to report she was stranded in a car at an intersection, went unanswered for a long time. She then reported that water was up to the door of her car and she was stuck.

"Why did you drive through the flooded water?" the police officer, Senior Constable Jason Wheeler, asked. After taking down her details, Senior Constable Wheeler said emergency services had been receiving a huge number of calls.

Before the call ended, he said: "You shouldn't have driven through it in the first place, OK."

In the second phone call, several minutes later, Jordan Rice spoke to a Queensland Fire and Rescue Service operator. He initially had trouble describing where they were stuck and was asked to calm down: "No, we're scared. "We're nearly drowning, hurry up please."

Before the call cut out, there was a discussion about getting on to the roof of the car.

Senior Constable Wheeler, who took Mrs Rice's call at 1.49pm, said he had no appreciation she was in major danger. "There was no panic or distress in her voice," he said.

He said minor flooding had occurred at the same intersection in the past, and her request to him to call a tow truck did not suggest a sense of urgency.

Senior Constable Wheeler said he had told her to call a tow truck herself because the police service could not be seen to give preferential treatment to a particular towing company.

He reported himself to a welfare officer a day or two after the call, expressing concern he did not keep his frustration in check.

Mr Tyson spoke to the inquiry, saying his wife was "a guardian angel" and saying Jordan loved his family unconditionally.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Victoria Police computer system failure lets parole violators commit murder

SEVEN parole violators charged with murder were still on the streets at the time of the killings because of a failure in the Victoria Police computer system. A secret Victoria Police report reveals the murders could have been prevented if police who dealt with the offenders over other matters had known they were on parole.

Senior police were warned 3 1/2 years ago their troubled LEAP computer system's failure to flag a person's parole status could cost lives.

Det-Supt Gerry Ryan, the senior crime department officer who received the latest damning report four months ago, said yesterday the computer issue was "in the process of being resolved". "It's currently in the process of happening. These things take time unfortunately," he said.

The report was written last December and recommended that "immediate priority" be given to fixing the problem. The report reveals 11 parolees were charged with murder between July 1, 2008, and November 17, 2010.

Seven of them had either been charged with other offences while on parole or behaved in a way likely to have led to their parole being cancelled - if police had known they were on parole at the time. But in each case police who dealt with them had no idea they were parolees and did not report them to the Parole Board. If the Parole Board cancels a freed prisoner's parole, an arrest warrant is issued.

The police report, marked "Protected" and written by Detective Acting Inspector Mark Newlan, warned the problem exposed Victoria Police to "legitimate criticism by the media and the broader community" and significant damage to the force's reputation.

"However, a far greatest (sic) risk is that through police inaction persons identified as having breached their parole are allowed to continue their patterns of offending, possibly going on to commit the most serious of crimes," he wrote.

Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones said yesterday he was deeply concerned and had called for urgent advice. He said he would review each case to determine its circumstances. "In relation to LEAP flagging parole status, the technical work is now complete and the team is currently waiting on advice from Corrections around the legal aspects associated with the provision of this data to Victoria Police," Deputy Commissioner Jones said.

The report, obtained by the Herald Sun, also calls for better resourcing of a unit that was formed to locate parole-breakers and return them to jail.

It disclosed that an operation set up in mid-2008 to locate wanted criminals whose parole had been cancelled put 738 parole violators back behind bars in less than 2 1/2 years. But it warned the success of Operation ROPE (Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement) would be severely compromised if resourcing was not addressed.

Acting Insp Newlan said Operation ROPE needed renewed commitment of personnel, and recommended that the force's four regions be required each to provide one senior constable.

Det-Supt Ryan would not discuss staff numbers, telling the Herald Sun: "Operation ROPE is fully staffed to the level it needs to be and we don't have any issues."

A police source told the Herald Sun murders committed by parolees were "just the thin end of the wedge". "How many other major crimes - like rape, armed robbery, aggravated burglary and drug trafficking - are being committed by crooks who would already be back in jail if our people knew they were on parole?" the source said.

The parole debacle is the latest controversy for the LEAP database system, which the previous government said in 2005 would be scrapped and replaced, at a cost of $59 million.

Police said in March 2009 that the force's new records management system, LINK, would be progressively rolled out from late that year. In March 2010, they announced they were temporarily suspending the LINK rollout to address technical and cost problems. There has been speculation the new cost of the project could be closer to $85 million.

Acting Insp Newlan's report said the LEAP system "does not currently have the capacity to flag a person's parole status on the Master Name Summary or any other screen". "The consequence of LEAP not flagging a parole status is that it reduces the ability of police to take appropriate action in relation to breaches of parole," he said.


Monday, April 18, 2011

At least one Victorian police officer is busted for being involved in serious crime each week

ROGUE police are being caught breaking the law at a rate of more than one a week. The breaches include serious crimes such as multiple assaults, sex attacks, thefts, threats to kill, firearms offences, burglary, stalking, child pornography and drug offences.

And four officers a week on average are caught failing to do their duty, with more than 2000 public complaints against police being proved in eight years.

Victorians also are paying a high price, with 373 suspended officers paid more than $15 million in the past decade. Almost one officer a month had assault complaints against them upheld in eight years to 2009.

Twenty-five serious and 56 minor assault complaints proven included officers striking, choking, kicking, manhandling, pushing and spitting at people.

Other substantiated complaints include hundreds of incidents of cops behaving badly - making threats, indecent behaviour, abuse, being aggressive, insulting, harassing and behaving improperly.

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said it was "not OK" when police acted inappropriately. "We probably attract more complaints here in Victoria than just about any other jurisdictions in Australia," he said on 3AW today.

"There's an argument (to say), 'Is that a bad thing (or) is that a good thing?' "It could mean a number of things. It could actually mean we’re not as well behaved. It could actually mean people have more confidence in our systems here so they report more."

Mr Overland said officers who committed crimes were dealt with. "We charge them criminally and or we take discipline action," he said. He branded the complaints "customer service issues" not "criminality".

"They're people who behave rudely, duty failure, they haven’t done what they’re supposed to do or they’ve done it the wrong way so that’s about 50 per cent of the data you’re looking at," he said.

"Certainly that’s not good enough and we need to work to improve that. "Anything that does involve criminality is clearly not OK but we deal with it and that’s what the data shows."

The Police Association said officers caught breaking the law should be punished like any other criminals. "It is obviously a concern and no matter who it is whether they be a police officer or any other occupation if you break the law you deserve to be dealt with according to the law," Police Association Secretary Greg Davies told

Mr Davies said of the number of officers caught breaking the law were less than half a per cent of the total number of officers on the payroll. "Our members don’t want to be working with criminals, they don’t join the police force to do that they join the police force to lock up criminals," he said. "People convicted of criminal offences are almost inevitably dismissed from the police force."

Mr Davies said for minor offences officers might face an internal displinary process and be demoted or transferred.

Victoria Police has refused to release details of recent complaints under Freedom of Information laws or say how many complaints it receives.

The revelations have sparked fresh calls for a review of how police complaints are handled. "You're complaining to the very people you have a problem with. It's the fox watching the hen house," said Law Institute Victoria president Caroline Counsel.

"You can complain to the ombudsman, the Office of Police Integrity or the police (but) all investigations should be independent of the police."

Ms Counsel said the lack of full disclosure made the data impossible to interpret. "We're not getting a clear picture of what's going on," she said. "Are these the same rotten officers in the barrel committing these offences?"

The Victorian Ombudsman received 1000 complaints about Victoria Police in 2009-10, most of which were referred to the OPI. Of the 712 complaints against police received by the OPI in 2009-10, more than two-thirds (493) were referred back to police. Just 10 were investigated by the OPI, with 23 still under assessment and 268 complaints found to be outside the OPI's jurisdiction or "not warranting investigation".

The force said it encouraged complaints and had a history of disciplining members and laying criminal charges when appropriate. "If the OPI refers matters to the police for investigation and complainants are not satisfied with the outcome they can make further approaches to the OPI," a spokesman said.

The data was released to the Herald Sun by Victoria Police outside the FoI laws.


Qld. Cop stood down over alleged bashing

ANOTHER police officer has been stood down in Queensland for misconduct. The male senior constable is alleged to have assaulted someone during an investigation.

Police are yet to release any further details other than to advise he is in the Far Northern Region police district. The district covers a large area from Cardwell (between Cairns and Townsville) to the Torres Strait.

It is the latest blow to the Queensland Police Service after a furore erupted last month about the light-handed approach it takes to disciplining its own.

An independent panel of experts are currently analysing recommendations to improve the police discipline process. The recommendations sprang from a Crime and Misconduct Commission report late last year that recommended immediate improvements.

The CMC and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh have recently called for a more transparent disciplinary process. Both said public confidence in the police force was at stake.


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.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vindictive West Australian cops still targeting the innocent victim of their own corruption

They framed Mickelberg to get a conviction many years ago but still appear to hate him for his role in exposing their corruption. The two cops principally concerned in the original fraud are now dead but an entirely justified foul smell still hangs over the entire force -- materially assisted by subsequent corrupt prosecutions (such as the Mallard case) that have not led to significant disciplinary action against the cops concerned

THE man wrongly jailed for the 1982 Perth Mint Swindle has been acquitted in the West Australian Supreme Court of stealing a $16.80 roll of tape from a hardware store.

Ray Mickelberg was found guilty by a Perth magistrate in August 2010 of stealing a roll of orange 30-metre tape from a Bunnings hardware store in Innaloo.

Mr Mickelberg had used three strips of tape to repackage a box for a ceiling fan he had opened to inspect the item while at the Bunnings store.

Although he was originally charged with the theft of the $309 ceiling fan, Magistrate Giuseppe Cicchini dismissed the charge, but convicted the 64-year-old over the theft of the tape.

Mr Mickelberg, who represented himself, successfully appealed the conviction in the WA Supreme Court on Friday, with Commissioner Kevin Sleight finding he had an 'honest claim of right" over the tape. It meant Commissioner Sleight agreed that although Mr Mickelberg used the tape while it was still the property of Bunnings, he did intend to pay for the roll.

Commissioner Sleight said the issue of honest claim of right was not raised by Mr Mickelberg or the prosecutor during the case, so it was not considered by the magistrate. "Therefore, I conclude that Mr Mickelberg did not receive a fair trial and accordingly an injustice has occurred," he said in his judgment.

Mr Mickelberg, who along with his brothers Peter and Brian were framed by detectives and wrongly convicted in 1983 of stealing more than $650,000 in gold bullion, said the "ludicrous" charge showed that WA police were still after him. "That's why this state has got such a shocking track record of miscarriage of justice," he told reporters. "Every citizen realises if you stand and fight in this state you will be hunted down, just like I have been.

"If it hadn't been my name at Bunnings that day I wouldn't have been charged, it's as simple as that, but (police) saw a chance to get back at me and they took it."

In the original trial, Magistrate Cicchini found that the prosecution's key witness, Bunnings security guard Ian McKeagg, was not a "witness of truth", lacking reliability and credibility.

Mr Mickelberg said Bunnings and WA police would have known Mr McKeagg's evidence was perjured and said he would launch legal action against the hardware chain as well as the security guard. "It's my turn to use the judicial system against those who falsely accused me and I put Bunnings on notice," he said. "They might be a large corporation worth hundreds of millions, but I'm coming after them and I'm coming after them with force. They will pay for what they did to me."


Bent and secretive NSW police body resisting investigation of its practices

POLICE started investigating the apparent leak of information about an inquiry into alleged misconduct at the NSW Crime Commission within days of a series of articles appearing in the Herald about the state's most secretive crime-fighting agency.

Details of the Crime Commission's reaction to the Herald articles about the seizure of criminals' assets emerged in documents tendered in the Supreme Court this week.

The court is hearing an application by the Crime Commission that the Police Integrity Commission be prevented from holding public hearings into its "practices and procedures" for asset seizures, an inquiry that allegedly exceeds the PIC's powers.

The Crime Commission wrote to the PIC on February 16, referring to the articles, asserting that non-publication orders made in earlier secret hearings had been breached and a criminal offence had been committed. There was a possibility the "suspected offender" was employed by the PIC, the Assistant Commissioner, Peter Singleton, wrote.

In a second letter, Mr Singleton called for relations between the two commissions to remain "on a professional and cordial basis". He reminded the PIC that the Crime Commission had for many years provided it with "valuable" intelligence voluntarily, but said confidentiality needed to be assured. "Breaches of confidentiality of [the Crime Commission's] material poses a real risk to life as well as to effective investigation of organised and serious crime," Mr Singleton wrote.

The PIC Commissioner replied, expressing concern about the alleged breach, and reporting he had referred the matter to police.

A week ago the Crime Commission dropped its attempt to seize mobile phones, SIM cards and telephone records of two Herald journalists. The documents also reveal that:

The PIC inquiry started with an investigation into the relationship between a forensic accountant at the Crime Commission and a lawyer;

The PIC investigated the complaint by a Sydney law firm against an officer of the Crime Commission in June 2008;

As early as 2000 the Crime Commission had received legal advice that its practice of paying legal expenses out of criminals' assets was legal.

Lawyers for the PIC and the Crime Commission put their case before the court yesterday as to whether the law prevented the PIC exercising its functions to prevent misconduct and examine systemic problems at the Crime Commission, or if it could only investigate specific allegations of misconduct.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Racing identity assaulted by NSW police court finds

A racing identity was the victim of a brutal police assault, but he was the one to face charges and perjured police evidence, a Sydney magistrate has been told.

Tom Hughes Junior, barrister for Benedetto Forbello, was applying for his client's legal costs after a magistrate found him not guilty of four charges today.

Mr Forbello, 41, had been charged with offensive language, resisting arrest, hindering police in the execution of their duties and assaulting police following an incident outside the Royal Oaks Hotel at Double Bay in April last year.

In the Downing Centre Local Court, Mr Hughes said CCTV footage revealed Mr Forbello had been "jumped upon" by seven or eight police officers while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

He described photographs of the consequence of "that brutal assault" as "sickening" and said the attack included a policewoman "gratuitously and disgracefully" kneeing Mr Forbello in the groin.

He also said there were "21 identifying incidents of perjury" committed by one of the officers, who denied he had supplied his statement to other officers.

Magistrate Geoffrey Bradd will hand down his decision on the cost application next month.


Your police won't protect you

They just walk around looking important afterwards. An armed bikie and threats of violence but NSW police didn't act

WHEN Melissa Cook went to Macquarie Fields police to file a complaint against her violent ex-husband, she thought the harassment would stop.

After receiving threatening calls from her former bikie partner John Kudrytch, Melissa and her mum Jean went to police on November 20, 2008. There was an active AVO in place and the Cook family thought the harassment classified as a breach. The case wasn't immediately dealt with.

Melissa's file is alleged to have sat in the police computer system for more than two weeks. On December 16, Kudrytch walked into a Casula BP and shot Melissa with a gun. He was later found dead. Three domestic violence case officers will take the stand today in the coronial inquest into Melissa's death.

Macquarie Fields police Constable Sarah Abela took a statement from Melissa about her ex-husband, a former senior Comanchero bikie who had access to rifles and guns.

Constable Abela lodged an initial "event" before it was verified as "low priority" by her superior Sergeant Peter Lonergan. The matter was supposed to be sent to Liverpool Police Station but wasn't.

Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell said he wanted to know why Melissa's concerns weren't taken more seriously.

When Constable Abela returned to work after several days' leave, the matter was still untouched so she re-submitted the complaint and it was again verified as "low priority".

Melissa's cousin Terry Campbell, a former Comanchero, gave evidence yesterday that he knew Kudrytch had access to weapons. When police found Kudrytch dead in his Pine Rd home they found a cache of weapons and ammunition.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Crooked NSW cops losing the battle against exposure

THE state's most secretive crime-fighting agency, the NSW Crime Commission, has dropped its attempt to seize the mobile phones, SIM cards and telephone records of two Herald journalists in its continuing dispute with the police corruption watchdog.

The backdown comes after the election of the new Coalition government and the appointment of a new Police Minister, Michael Gallacher, who oversees the Crime Commission.

Subpoenas were issued last month not just to the two journalists, Linton Besser and Dylan Welch, but also to Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald. The subpoenas, which demanded that all records of contacts between its journalists and the Police Integrity Commission be handed over, provoked outrage among civil libertarians and legal groups.

But last night the Crime Commission told lawyers acting for Fairfax that it "now does not intend to press the subpoenas such that no production by your clients is required".

The Herald had earlier published an investigation that revealed the Crime Commission had cut hundreds of deals with criminal figures allowing them to walk away with millions of dollars worth of the proceeds of crime.

The articles highlighted other "opportunities for misconduct" within the agency, including its habit of taking substantial amounts of seized criminal assets to pay for its own legal costs. A top-secret PIC inquiry, also revealed in the reports, had uncovered evidence the Crime Commission had been rewarding select defence solicitors with hundreds of thousands of dollars for work that may have only taken several hours.

It is understood Mr Gallacher has not yet met with the Crime Commission commissioner, Phillip Bradley.

Mr Gallacher was quoted in those stories accusing the commission of "washing" millions of dollars worth of criminal proceeds, and promised an inquiry.

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, later said the commission needed an "accountability mechanism".

The reports revealed that the PIC, which was given oversight of the Crime Commission after serious allegations were raised about the activities of staff, had found areas of potential misconduct that warranted a hearing.

Within days of the Herald reporting the PIC's intentions, the Crime Commission launched legal action in the Supreme Court aimed at stymieing any such hearings. Those hearings are due to begin at the end of next week.


Friday, April 8, 2011

NT cops don't care about dead boongs

Cops 'at fault' in Aboriginal boy's waterhole death, says Northern Territory coroner

A NORTHERN Territory coroner has slammed police for failing to properly investigate the death of an eight-year-old Aboriginal boy, whose weighed down body was found in a shallow waterhole. NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh has now referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions after finding a crime had been committed.

In handing down his findings today, Mr Cavanagh said investigating police quickly concluded that the death was not suspicious. "Thereafter, the investigation was given neither the priority, nor the seniority of investigators, that it deserved," Mr Cavanagh said.

The boy, who cannot be named for cultural reasons, went missing in October 2007 and was found dead two days later in the waterhole just outside the remote Aboriginal community of Borroloola, near the Queensland border in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

When the boy's body was removed from the deepest part of the waterhole, which was only 75cm deep, large rocks fell from the legs of his shorts (not the pockets).

Police did not seize the rocks, a crime scene was not properly established so that contamination or interference could be excluded, and the waterhole was not drained and examined until ten days later.

"The possibility that these rocks were used to weigh down the boy's upper body was apparently never considered by the original investigators as it did not fit with their preferred accidental drowning theory," Mr Cavanagh said, adding that he could not determine a cause of death. "He has lacerations to the top and back of his head that were consistent with being struck by a rock."

He said a XXXX Gold beer can found near the water's edge was seized, but not forensically tested until months later. DNA extracted from the can was determined to belong to a person on remand for child sex offences.

The boy's family said it was not in the his nature to wander off alone, and that they had found his tracks and a set of adult tracks leading into the bush.

Ms Cavanagh criticised police for failing to obtain measurements and castings of the footprints, and said his examination of the bush and waterhole had led him to conclude that no child would consider swimming there. "The waterhole was shallow, muddy and uninviting. "I am satisfied that this young boy did not wander off into bushland alone but was rather lured, led or forced there."

He said evidence gathered at the scene, such as a pornographic magazine from the United Kingdom, was deemed irrelevant without an objective basis for such assumptions.

Days after the boy's body was found, a local resident located a red child-sized singlet in bushland near the tracks. Police left the singlet where it was overnight and presumed it was irrelevant, despite the fact the boy - who was found bare-chested - was last seen in a red shirt. "How such an assumption could be reached by investigators is a serious concern," Mr Cavanagh said.

The singlet, which was the boy's favourite top, was not shown to his family for identification or exclusion at the time. The family was instead given a red Manchester United soccer shirt that was also found at the scene, which they denied belonged to the boy.

Ms Cavanagh said there was a distinct possibility that the soccer shirt was connected to a person involved in the boy's disappearance and death. He said the man whose DNA was found on the beer can told the inquest he had owned a shirt similar to the one found by police, but had lost it months before the boy went missing. "Given the delay, his account cannot be reliably tested, verified or discounted."

Mr Cavanagh said the man, whose name has been suppressed, remained a person of interest in the case, and police had recently identified a second person of interest.

At the outset of the inquest Superintendent Kristopher Evans, who is in charge of the Major Crime Division, frankly admitted police "failed to do their job properly". "The community is entitled to expect better from their police force ... I'd like to apologise to the community, but mainly to the family of this young boy ... we're deeply sorry," Supt Evans said. Police conducted an internal review, the findings of which were submitted to the inquest.

"I hope and trust that lessons have been learned," Mr Cavanagh said, adding that he supported the promulgation of Child and Infant Death Investigation Guidelines for the police force.


Victorian police bully

Senior police officer accused of threatening teen basketball referee

A senior Victorian police officer has been banned from attending basketball games for five years after he allegedly grabbed a teenage referee's whistle and threatened her.

Police have launched an Ethical Standards Department (ESD) probe into the Acting Inspector's behaviour. The force initially said the ESD was not investigating the clash which happened at Knox Basketball Stadium on March 6.

It's understood the 49-year-old officer is based at Maroondah police station. A police spokeswoman confirmed the officer was off-duty when the incident happened.

"(He) was subsequently sanctioned by the Basketball Victoria Tribunal and banned from coaching or playing basketball for five years," the spokeswoman said. "This matter will now be referred to the Ethical Standards Department for review.

"This tribunal sanction will not impact the police officer's capacity to attend basketball stadiums as a part of his operational duties."

The female referee, 18, lodged a complaint against the officer alleging he swore at her, tried to grab her whistle and left her frightened and intimidated. The officer was found guilty of six charges by a Basketball Victoria tribunal on March 17.

Basketball Victoria governance and operations manager Gerry Glennen said the man had been suspended from all basketball activities and venues around Australia for five years. Mr Glennen said Basketball Victoria didn’t initially know the man was a police officer. The ban would not stand if the man had to attend a basketball stadium for police duties, he said.

Supt Jeff Forti, who the Acting Insp reports to, said he only became aware of the incident when he heard it on radio station 3AW this morning. He said the matter should "most definitely be referred" to the ESD. "He's a well respected individual. I was astounded to hear this this morning," Supt Forti said.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Corruption claims hit Gold Coast CIB

A FORMER Gold Coast detective claims to have been caught up in "the greatest corruption since the Fitzgerald inquiry" on the Glitter Strip. Ex-Burleigh Heads CIB officer David Whyte made the allegation in Southport Magistrates Court yesterday during a workers compensation hearing.

He is one of three former Burleigh detectives suing the Workers' Compensation Regulatory Authority after being denied compensation for alleged workplace bullying and harassment.

Now a disability pensioner, he was last year acquitted of stalking and assaulting his neighbours in what he claimed were trumped-up charges laid by vengeful colleagues.

Yesterday, the court was told Mr Whyte confronted superiors about a "culture of bullying" in the Burleigh Heads CIB and the use of "dodgy" search warrants.

Mr Whyte said that he finally took his allegations to the Crime and Misconduct Commission because he did not trust the police Ethical Standards Command.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Queensland police banned from free burgers, doughnuts

POLICE will be banned from accepting free or discounted burgers and doughnuts under new anti-corruption reforms threatening to cause divisions within the force.

The Queensland Police Service will activate a revamped gratuities policy on July 1, but the police union is preparing to help officers circumvent it. The Courier-Mail understands the draft policy bans free or discounted fast-food and alcoholic drinks at bars inside an officer's jurisdiction. It also bans "blue-light taxis" where police cars are used to give free lifts to colleagues.

The reforms follow a Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation into allegations Gold Coast police did favours for nightclub staff, who gave them free drinks and entry. Current arrangements allow police to pay half-price at McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, Subway, Coffee Club, Gloria Jeans, and many local food shops. Free alcohol is also given to officers at various bars and many independent retailers give away items for free.

The union has vowed to side-step the ban by creating a union shopper-card that gives about 10,000 police the same deals.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers yesterday denied long-standing gratuities from retailers were problematic. "Discounts available for members of organisations, such as the Law Society and the Bar Association, are provided under exactly the same principle as those which we may be able to organise," he said.

The plan to ban all gratuities was applauded by a Griffith University police ethics expert, Professor Tim Prenzler. "Gratuities are about buying the police and that's why they're offered," Dr Prenzler said. "We know this from surveys and interviews." Dr Prenzler called for the union's proposed shopper-cards to only be used when police were off-duty or not in uniform.

The policy is still being finalised by police Ethical Standards Command. "The service is developing policy on gratuities, and will consider any position taken by the union, and respond appropriately in accordance with legislation and policy," a QPS spokeswoman said.

Previous studies have shown the public opposes police accepting gratuities because of real or perceived favouritism. The New York Police Department recently banned all gratuities, because it deemed the arrangements problematic.

Currently, Queensland police must declare any gift they receive worth $20 or more. It is believed that threshold will not be lowered.

The police watchdog, the Crime and Misconduct Commission, uncovered unethical practices by Gold Coast police during Operation Tesco in 2009 and 2010. The investigation cleared the wider police force of corruption but identified "systemic organisational issues".


Sunday, April 3, 2011

NSW police bust internal steroid smuggling ring

Trust the NSW cops to go after something that is relatively harmless

A SECRET internal police investigation has smashed a steroid smuggling ring operating inside the NSW Police Force.

The two-year operation, codenamed Oklahoma, exposed at least eight serving officers allegedly using and distributing non-prescribed steroids, anabolic steroids and human growth hormones, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

The investigation focused on a group called the "Tamworth four", who Industrial Relations Commission documents alleged ran the steroid ring and talked about taking out a fellow officer who could have endangered their operation.

Details of the operation, which ran until last year, were revealed in a Commission hearing where an officer sacked for steroid use lodged an unsuccessful bid to get his job back. Constable Matthew Walsh claimed his sacking by police commissioner Andrew Scipione last June was harsh.

The Commission heard that using listening devices on mobile and police station phones, Operation Oklahoma's initial target was Tamworth senior constable Nathan McCulloch - a 15-year veteran of the NSW Police Force.

It was told the ring involved three other officers including McCulloch's wife, Elisa Maree McCulloch, a senior constable with 20 years' experience.

Another senior constable, Terri Whitton, was recorded having conversations with officers about sourcing steroids from her then boyfriend Ben Wilson - a forward for the Wee Waa Panthers rugby league team.

Constable Matthew Walsh admitted to using steroids sourced from McCulloch on multiple occasions, the court heard. He also admitted to being aware that the steroids were imported over the internet from Thailand and from other people in Australia.

All four officers were either sacked from the force or allowed to resign.

The documents also revealed the group was linked to local business people, rugby league players and at least four other serving officers, including one in Queensland who was known as "Fridge". None were prosecuted due to a lack of evidence, a police source said.

The four sacked officers were hauled before the Police Integrity Commission.

Evidence given in the Industrial Commission was that the steroids were imported via post from Thailand and from a local network in the Tamworth area.

When police raided McCulloch's home in 2008 he allegedly sent an SMS to his wife which said: "get the steroids out of the house".

Before that, the Commission heard that investigating officers intercepted a phone call between McCulloch and Walsh where they discussed another officer, Troy "Ling Ling" Rowland, who they said was "skiting off about the perfume", referring to pro-growth hormones. The two men discussed "doing a Brasco on him", Commission documents said. Asked if that meant "taking him out", Walsh said: "Yeah, possibly."

Whitton was ordered in Armidale Court to perform 150 community service hours after being convicted of giving false or misleading evidence to a commission on March 11.

Nathan McCulloch was fined $2500 after he was convicted on five charges including possessing an illegal steroidal agent, forging a prescription and drug supply. Elisa McCulloch was charged but was not convicted.

The NSW Police Drug and Alcohol Policy states that officers are prohibited from using anabolic steroids or other steroids unless they are prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons.

A NSW Health spokesman said it is illegal to possess non-prescribed steroids. A spokesman for the NSW Department of Health said all were anabolic steroids which are illegal unless prescribed by a doctor.