Thursday, December 20, 2012

Police coverup of bungled Qld. prosecution

THE mother of a murder victim is furious Queensland police won't honour a promise to come clean about a failed investigation of the brutal 1999 killings.

Despite 12 years of police work and DNA evidence, police failed to secure convictions against two men accused of the killings of Ann-Maree Kropp and her partner Christopher Nancarrow at Springbrook on the Gold Coast.

The men were found to be not guilty, with no clear evidence of motive presented at the month-long trial in October 2011.

Police promised the Kropp family in January that the findings of an internal review into what went wrong "will be conveyed to you in due course".

But although the QPS has completed its probe, it has made no attempt to contact the family.

"We've heard nothing," Shirley Kropp, Ann-Maree's mother, said. "They've totally ignored us. It's just not good enough. I just wonder what they're trying to hide."

Mrs Kropp said she had heard through the Queensland Homicide Victim Support Group there had been errors in DNA sample collection.

It had also been a mistake to compel testimony from a forensic specialist who was experiencing psychological distress.

"They've got off blind because they stuffed up," she said.

But the QPS could not confirm the findings. It would say only that "a review of the of verdict" in the case "reinforced the Queensland Police Service's ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in terms of the investigation of serious crime".

A retired detective who initially worked the case said in 2011 that "police politics" had wrecked the investigation.

Paddy Fenely, a former Gold Coast CIB officer, said he had found promising lines of inquiry suggesting the murdered couple had been recruited by a drug ring linked to Nomads bikies planning to supply methamphetamine to truck drivers in Murwillumbah.

But the investigation was transferred to another unit.

Under changes to Queensland's double jeopardy laws last year, murder cases can be reopened if "fresh and compelling" new evidence emerges.

Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon, who took over the investigation in 2007, said last month no further arrests should be expected and no one was being sought for questioning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Inquiry finds AFP officer handed out sensitive data
An Australian Federal Police agent found to have links to organised crime is facing the sack after a covert investigation by anti-corruption authorities.

The corruption watchdog is due to release a report on Friday that finds an AFP agent wrongly accessed and handed out sensitive police information.

It also finds he wrote character references under AFP letterhead, including for "acquaintances" facing criminal charges.

The officer was tracked using wire taps and physical surveillance, while investigators raided his home and work, and trawled through his emails and electronic documents. The agent began working with the force in 2002, but the accusations stem from his role as a community liaison officer in 2008 and 2009.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) was called in to investigate and found he allegedly had handed out sensitive police information to help associates locate a relative and a former school classmate obtain information about a car accident and progress immigration matters.

It also says he wrongly handed out official AFP character references to a range of acquaintances, including one charged with obstructing police and another charged with driving while his licence was suspended. He also allegedly gave references in relation to a domestic violence matter and in a private security licence application.

It is reported he deceived other officers and colleagues to help secure sensitive information. The agent used his position in the AFP to obtain information from other federal agencies and state police forces.

ACLEI also discovered he had undeclared links to serious and organised crime. But the investigation was unable to find any evidence that he had "materially or directly assisted any criminal enterprise".

The AFP first reported the agent to the corruption watchdog in 2009. He was suspended from duty in early 2010, after Integrity Commissioner Philip Moss warned the AFP of what the investigation had found.

The ACLEI's report, due to be released at lunchtime on Friday, recommends that he now be sacked. "Taken together, Federal Agent A's conduct demonstrated a consistent willingness to disregard his official duty and misuse the discretionary power entrusted to him in favour of advancing personal standing," Mr Moss wrote. "It is incomprehensible that an AFP appointee of any length of service would not know of the sensitivity of handling law enforcement information," he wrote.

An AFP spokeswoman said the agency was still considering what action it would take.

ACLEI's report noted the officer was seeking to hold the AFP liable. He claimed he was ignorant of AFP policy, had poor training and supervision, and was given "unrealistic and incompatible" expectations.

NSW cop spared jail over Perth nightclub sex assault, but fined $7500

A DECORATED NSW police officer who sexually assaulted a young woman on a dance floor during an assignment to protect world leaders in Perth has been spared prison but is set to lose his job.

Ian Ronald Sleigh, 45, wept openly in the dock after he was convicted of sexually assaulting the 22-year-old daughter of a WA policeman he had met last October while in the state to work at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Having drunk eight full strength beers on an empty stomach at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow nightspot in Northbridge, Sleigh put his hand up the skirt of the young woman before roughly groping her genitals.

The shocked woman immediately told other police in the pub what had happened, and Sleigh was arrested and initially charged with sexual penetration without consent.  That was replaced with a sexual assault charge, to which Sleigh pleaded guilty to on Monday.

Justice Bruce Goetze today fined Sleigh $7500 - an amount he said would go to the victim - but spared him a prison term, which he said would have been made doubly hard by his position as a police officer and convicted sex offender.

"You have suffered a severe amount of public humiliation ... which in your case has been amplified by reason of your position," Justice Goetze said.  "Prison is a penalty of last resort, and in my view this offence does not require a term of imprisonment.  "It is not an easy decision but that is the one I have come to."

Justice Goetze said the assault had left the young victim emotionally traumatised and needing ongoing counselling.

The court was also told - notwithstanding her family link to the police - that her view of the force had been changed by Sleigh's assault.

Earlier, Detective Inspector Peter McKenna, Sleigh's commanding officer in the Manning/Great Lakes area on the NSW mid-north coast, told the court his former colleague had been suspended without pay following his guilty plea.  He now faces the almost inevitable consequence of losing his job of 13 years.

Det Insp McKenna said while the force had been shocked and disgusted by Sleigh's conduct, he still had supporters within the police, and had been retained on desk duties while waiting for the case to come to court.

"He is disgusted with himself as to what has happened, and the flow-on effects to himself, his family and the NSW police," Det Insp McKenna said. "I can't emphasise how out of character this is.

"But my expectation is that he will be dismissed. The impact on the community is going to be immense."

The court heard Sleigh had been forced to sell his house to pay for the legal fees incurred during the case, and his teenage son had been teased and was undergoing counselling. Sleigh also had been physically ill through the stress of the case.

Sleigh said nothing as he left court.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cop spills all on WA police

SEXIST, racist and trigger happy.  A former police officer has written a graphic account of life as a Perth cop in a new book that claims to blow the whistle on what really goes on behind the blue line.

The book, written under the pseudonym "Officer A" and called The Crime Factory, details several years the author spent in the WA Police after coming over in 2006 as part of a recruitment drive to lure British cops.

The book contains accusations of racism, brutality, bullying and binge drinking.

"Policing in Western Oz was like policing in the 1970s in the UK, but more violent, racist and sexist, and the cops had free use of guns and Tasers," it said.

Officer A, who worked in WA until early 2008, said local cops were trigger happy especially when it came to Tasers.

The chapter about his arrival in Perth is called: "Welcome to Hell".  "I'd quickly learnt that in Australia you were much more likely to be shot dead by a cop than get eaten by a shark," he said.

"A significant minority of officers tasered anybody that pissed them off, which was usually anyone with a different skin colour.  "I saw two officers attack a pair of harmless sailors. They were a bit drunk but were completely inoffensive."

He also recounts how his then wife who also came over to work in the force was sent out to execute an arrest warrant on a potentially violent criminal just moments after she told her manager she was pregnant.

The book alleges senior police made it clear the recruits were just a "doctor's quick fix".  "The local cops hated us," the author says.

The book traces Officer A's career in WA, starting out at a suburban police station before winning a transfer to a secretive intelligence division as a "covert officer" rounding up informants to take out the "baddest guys in the country".

He resigned in 2008 following an incident at a Perth pub, where he says a drunken officer verbally abused him,  then returned to Britain to work for the Surrey police force.

A WA Police spokesman said: "The claims in the book about policing in WA are hard to fathom and probably say more about the author than they do about WA Police.  "There is nothing in the book that gives WA Police any concern."

He said that between 2006 and 2009, 657 overseas officers were recruited in a "highly successful international recruitment campaign".  Just over a quarter of those recruits have since quit.

Last night, The Sunday Times spoke with the author of The Crime Factory who admitted to having a nervous breakdown after his return to the UK which he claims insiders were trying to use to discredit his book.

The breakdown led to a 2010 incident in which he made a drunken phone call from his police station to a colleague claiming that he was going to shoot himself. It caused the station to be stormed by police.

He was fined 500 pounds, but the court heard that during his police career he had won several awards.  "I had a breakdown," he said. "It happens. Prior to that I had an excellent service record."

He said the book had been a steady seller.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If these cops don't go to jail, nobody will

Two guys lying on the ground bothering nobody and the police come along and whale into them with no provocation

AN officer who struck two suspects with a baton during a city arrest now faces an official investigation.

South Australia's Police Complaints Authority will look at the actions of the officer and his partner after Seven News recorded the incident and aired the footage.

The men were sitting on the ground in Whitmore Square in central Adelaide when one officer struck them during their arrests at Whitmore Square about 2.30pm.

Witnesses said both men were pepper-sprayed before an officer struck one man twice with his baton and hit the other man three times.

A police spokesman said the officers were questioning the two men about alleged drug dealing.

Police have confirmed the Police Complaints Authority will investigate.

The arrested men have been charged with hindering and resisting police and one was also charged with assaulting a police officer and possessing drug paraphernalia


Monday, December 3, 2012

Shady police officers caught on the wrong side of the law in Queensland

A POLICE officer caught smuggling drugs from New Zealand and another who molested a boy are among a dozen police officers found on the wrong side of the law in Queensland in the past year.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that nine of the officers found guilty of crimes - which also included assault, excessive force, drink-driving and inappropriate behaviour - since July 1, 2011, are still working for the Queensland Police Service.

None was sacked, but the drug smuggler, pedophile and an officer who stole weed killer from a shop all quit, while another was suspended and two others were stood down from operational duties pending internal investigations.

Documents obtained under the Right to Information Act show an additional 16 officers suspected of official misconduct resigned before investigations were complete.

Those allegations related primarily to assault and excessive force with a weapon, corruption favouritism, victimisation and harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

    Offences included:

     *  Allegedly running a side business and getting a prisoner to help move house.

     *  Using police position to intimidate a vet into providing free treatment.

     *  Arresting and cuffing a man who was then punched "repeatedly in the face" and "smashed his head into a police van and kicked him in the back".

Most resignations meant that internal investigations were dropped, but Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said management would consider keeping them open when dismissal and demotion were a possible outcome and there weren't any criminal charges.

He said since 2010, QPS had only twice continued investigating police who had resigned - once for an officer who acted inappropriately and the other involving an officer accused of drug offences.

"In an organisation of over 10,600 officers, inevitably there are going to be issues from time to time," Deputy Commissioner Barnett said. "But I think the number of officers who come to attention for serious misconduct is very small."

He said the review into police discipline was stalled pending the outcome of the review into the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

"Everyone . . . who's in this area is keen that allegations of misconduct or criminal conduct are dealt with as soon as possible," he said.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bugging report too dangerous to release

The report of an official enquiry should be well considered so there can only be one thing the cops are afraid of:  The truth

THE secret police report into the widespread phone-tapping and bugging of over 110 serving and former officers was too "dangerous" to be released, the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, David Levine, said yesterday.

The reputations of the NSW Police Force and individual officers could be trashed if the report and recommendations by strike force Emblems were made public, the former Supreme Court judge said.

Mr Levine said while he could understand the concerns of the 114 people named in just one of the warrants investigated by strike force Emblems, the final decision to release the report should lie with NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher denied this was another attempt to bury the report which he had pledged to release when he got into government.

Police Association president Scott Weber said those police officers affected felt the matter was "not being taken seriously" and rejected criticism of the Emblems investigators.

"Many of (the officers) were senior and respected police officers," Mr Weber said.

"They did their absolute best despite zero co-operation from the NSW Crime Commission and limited access to information. They were even subjected to threats of being prosecuted under the draconian secrecy provisions."

Strike force Emblems was set up in 2003 after a number of officers, including one of the now-deputy commissioners Nick Kaldas, made complaints about being bugged by the police's Special Crime and Internal Affairs unit working with the Crime Commission and the PIC in what was called Operation Mascot. The operation's leader was Superintendent Catherine Burn, another current deputy commissioner.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

NSW Crime Commission broke the law

This has long been alleged

The police watchdog has found misconduct and illegal practices within the New South Wales Crime Commission.  The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has found the Crime Commission has grossly misapplied the law for more than a decade.

The PIC says the crime fighting body illegally funded about 15 per cent of its budget using cash seized from suspected criminals.

The report says grossly-excessive sums of money were handed back to defendants for their legal fees.

The solicitor girlfriend of a former senior officer received more than $300,000 for four cases alone.

The PIC has recommended the former officer Lou Novakovic be charged with misconduct for favours to his girlfriend, Salina Sadiq, and for giving false or misleading evidence.

The Crime Commission's former commissioner and directors have escaped adverse findings, with the report concluding they were ignorant of the law.

The New South Wales Crime Commission was set up in 1985 to investigate major drug trafficking and organised crime.

The PIC has conducted a four-year investigation into the organisation, after a series of scandals.

In 2011, former assistant director, Mark Standen, was jailed for 22 years on drug importation charges.

A separate special commission of inquiry found no ongoing corruption within the body but problems with its accountability.

In September, veteran barrister Peter Hastings QC was announced as the new Crime Commissioner.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Police riot in Sydney

A BABY left in a car while his mother ran into a south-west Sydney shop led to claims of "a riot", with one officer pulling a Taser and numerous shoppers surrounded by police cars and affected by capsicum spray.

Scores of Campsie and Bankstown police were called to Punchbowl's The Boulevard where they arrested two 20-year-old men after police clashed with shoppers on Friday afternoon.

The mother of the baby, who wants to remain anonymous, told Fairfax Media she has apologised to police for briefly leaving her sleeping one-year-old unsupervised in her car with windows wound down.

The violence was sparked by her cousin and brother clashing with police over the "10-minute indiscretion", she said.

"The first two officers were fine; it was another officer who was yelling at my brother and got into a big argument," she said.  "The police officer pushed him to the ground and made an arrest."

Acting Campsie Commander Paul Albury said there was no riot and police acted professionally when coming under attack and abuse from 50 people.

"The behaviour of the main individual towards police was disgusting and inflammatory," he said.  "An investigation is under way to identify and arrest a man who allegedly punched a male officer in the face," he said.

Community advocate for south-west Sydney, Rebecca Kay, has taken statements from eight people who saw the "riot" that was witnessed by up to 100 people.  Those who were sprayed will make an official complaint, she said.

Ms Kay said about 10 squad cars arrived on the scene and further escalated the trouble.

"One officer pulled out his Taser," she said. "The street was closed off, there were many people sprayed with capsicum spray, mums, kids, men and women, innocent bystanders. Police sprayed everyone," she said.

"The police were saying inappropriate things, racist and anti-Islamic comments. There needs [to be] respect, this behaviour harms relations between police and the community that we are trying to build."

Ms Kay said a community meeting is being held in Punchbowl on Wednesday.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Foot-dragging over thug W.A. cops

The instinct to protect cops clashes with the evidence so the result is indecision and buck-passing all round

WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan gave evidence at a parliamentary hearing on how the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) handled allegations of police misconduct. Pic WILKINS DANIEL Source: PerthNow

WEST Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan is concerned that the futures of the police officers involved in the infamous Kevin Spratt tasering incident are still unclear four years after it happened.

Mr Spratt was tasered in August 2008 by senior constables Troy Tomlin and Aaron Strahan after he refused a strip search.

CCTV footage of the tasering caused public outrage and demands that the officers involved be charged, but no charges have been laid.

Mr O'Callaghan and Assistant Commissioner of Professional Standards Dominic Staltari gave evidence on Wednesday at a parliamentary hearing on how the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) handled allegations of police misconduct such as the Spratt incident.

Mr Staltari said a draft CCC report had labelled the police investigation into the Spratt matter as "thorough and balanced'' but such remarks were taken out of the final report.

He said the CCC took 18 months to finalise its report into the matter.

Police had originally referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on October 11, 2010, but a month later the CCC decided to do its own investigation.

The matter has now been referred back to police via the DPP, and Mr Staltari said police would decide soon what to do next.

Mr O'Callaghan showed frustration at how long the probe had taken.

"We're not one step in front of where we were,'' he said.

Mr Staltari said the CCC was able to lay charges against police officers but had instead "handballed'' the matter back to the DPP for "serious consideration''.

Mr O'Callaghan said that was ``bizarre'' because the CCC had reached the same conclusion that the police originally had.

He said any complaints against an officer went first to police and the CCC was also informed.

"If you make a complaint to me, the CCC will know about it,'' Mr O'Callaghan said.

Mr Staltari said if the CCC made a finding of misconduct, the commissioner could not do anything with its report - he would have to order a separate police investigation.

He said he had previously suggested a "liaison meeting'' with the CCC but was told it would not look good for the CCC to appear to be "in bed'' with police and it needed to be independent.

However, 18 months later the CCC had made the same suggestion to him, which he welcomed.

The hearing heard that low-level complaints about police were usually investigated within 30 days while matters that required a more fully assessable investigation could take up to 60 days.

Mr O'Callaghan said the most serious cases should not take more than six months to investigate.

Mr Staltari said he would be concerned if any matter at internal affairs took more than three months and it would prompt him to intercede.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bullying, racism and sexism claims rock WA police

A KEY unit of WA Police is in turmoil after 11 workers accused three of their superiors of systemic bullying.

The present and former staff documented serious allegations stretching over two years, including inappropriate touching, lewd sexual remarks, anti-gay sentiment and racism against one woman boss.

But a spokeswoman for Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said a secret investigation into the allegations had cleared the superiors and found the accusations, outlined in a confidential 39-page document, were possibly "vexatious and mischievous".

The complaints, lodged by a third of the unit's workforce allege bullying, including verbal abuse and public beratings by a male boss, as well as unjustified criticism and claims of "impossible deadlines" and "insufficient time frames" to complete work.

One of the female superiors was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct towards a male employee, gay discrimination and improper racial comments. The allegations included she:

1. Instructed another worker not to hire a homosexual because, having worked with gays before, she found them "precious".

2. She was wearing a Looney Tunes Tweety Bird T-shirt when "she pulled the shirt from her body at the nipple area and lent forward moving the shirt and making tweeting sounds".

3. She groped her breasts through her clothing in the office and inappropriately drew attention to her breasts by picking up a toy spider from a complainant's desk and asking if it looked good on her chest.

4. She massaged a male worker's shoulders when he had asked her not to.

Staff alleged the same woman boss made comments with racist connotations during the organisation of an event in March.

The grievance states that: "(She) advised (three employees) that Mirrabooka is where 'all those people with colourful scarfs on their head live'." The employees understood the "scarfs" to mean head scarfs worn by Islamic women.

And it was claimed she "made a point of telling the recruits standing out the front to watch her car 'because of the area we're in', informed us that she would have to lock her doors when driving through the area to get to the venue", and said she would never employ someone from Mirrabooka.

Five employees who were not part of the action claimed to have either witnessed bullying of the complainants, the effects of the bullying or were concerned about the level of bullying in the workplace.

For legal reasons, The Sunday Times has not named the three superiors at the centre of the allegations, or the police unit they work for. WA Police commissioned private investigation firm Australia Wide Investigations to conduct an independent probe into the allegations.

Its report was forwarded to the force's human resources department two Fridays ago.

The Commissioner's spokeswoman confirmed the force had received the report on Tuesday and was considering its findings.

She said she had been advised that the report found that none of the accused officers "acted in a manner that contravenes any legislative or regulatory requirement in respect of their management practices".

And she said the investigator found on allegations of "inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature" that there was "insufficient evidence to conclude that any officer had acted in a manner alleged and it is possible that these allegations are vexatious and mischievous".

She said two employees had withdrawn their complaints and an assessment showed there was insufficient cause to progress the matters raised against one of the managers.

She said the report would not be made public.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heartless South Australian goons

THE shooting death of a Clare woman and the prosecution of her grieving husband for firearms offences, will be the subject of a high-level SA Police internal inquiry.

John and Julie Taylor's 20-year marriage ended in tragedy when she was accused of embezzlement and took her own life.

Police then charged John with allowing his wife to access the couple's .22 calibre handguns - despite both of them being licensed pistol shooters.

Although that charge has since been dropped, police are now conducting an internal review of their dealings with the Taylors.

The incident has also concerned mental health experts.

SANE Australia deputy chief executive Paul Morgan said police could have conducted themselves more sympathetically.  "I understand police have a very tough job to do but ... there must be compassion," he said.

"Police, doctors and anyone else dealing with those close to a suicide must be aware of the ripple effect these traumatic events have.  "Those left behind are more vulnerable to take their own lives, and so police must take into account their support needs."

Mrs Taylor, 42, served as secretary of the Clare Dog Obedience Club until June this year, when she was accused of defrauding $6000.  After speaking with police, she underwent mental health evaluation at Clare Hospital and was discharged.

On June 27, she fatally shot herself with a .22 calibre handgun registered in John Taylor's name.

Police subsequently alleged that Taylor, 59, had wrongfully allowed his wife access to the gun safe's keys and failed to secure the ammunition box with a padlock.

Last week, Taylor faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court.  In a letter to magistrate Joanne Tracey, he said he and his wife were licensed pistol shooters.  "Julie was my wife, we had no secrets between us and we had a happy marriage," the letter said.

"Now I am being prosecuted because I told my own wife where the gun safe key was kept."

Ms Tracey questioned whether the charges were appropriate, and prosecutors agreed to withdraw the handguns count.

Taylor pleaded guilty to failing to use a padlock on the ammunition box, but was convicted without penalty.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NSW police coverup must end

The NSW police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn this week becomes responsible for specialist operations, putting her in charge of squads such as homicide, counterterrorism and professional standards - which used to be known as Special Crime and Internal Affairs (SCIA).

This move places her in a powerful position to succeed the Commissioner, Andrew Scipione. But it also puts Burn in an invidious, if not untenable, position.

Serious unanswered questions relating to her time in the controversial SCIA unit more than a decade ago remain. Indeed, as revealed in The Sun-Herald, a secret NSW police report states Burn "may have participated in police corruption" while she worked there.

So how is it that Burn is now installed as the head of internal affairs and in charge of the state's most experienced and senior detectives with such serious claims still unresolved?

The report, by Strike Force Emblems, written in 2004, examined complaints against Burn and three other SCIA officers who were involved in an undercover operation on the north coast.

It said there was no evidence to bring criminal or disciplinary charges against her or the others and the Herald does not suggest Burn is corrupt. But, critically, the report also states its inquiries hit a roadblock when it was denied access to crucial documents and witnesses.

This was because, at the time, SCIA was running a covert inquiry into police corruption code-named Operation Mascot and, as a result of the NSW Crime Commission's involvement, the highest secrecy provisions applied.

When Emblems detectives investigating Burn went knocking on the crime commission's Kent Street door for help, it rolled down the shutters.

Scipione says he has not read the Emblems report because of the secrecy provisions. Why a report written by NSW police for the then commissioner, Ken Moroney, is secret from the current commissioner remains a mystery. Nevertheless Scipione, like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, knows nothing.

But leaked documents reveal that Scipione received an email in November 2001, explicitly warning him that some officers within SCIA were worried about the legality of telephone taps and the release of "fictitious information" to obtain listening devices. There were other serious concerns about wrongdoing. Scipione was SCIA's commander at the time.

Some of those concerns expressed in 2001 were followed up by the Emblems investigators. Its report found that "criminal conduct" and personal vendettas may have been behind one particular SCIA/crime commission bugging operation in September 2000.

On September 14 that year, Justice Virginia Bell of the Supreme Court approved an application for a listening device. It allowed SCIA and the crime commission to bug a staggering 114 people over a 21-day period.

There is another problem that arises in all this. Ms Burn must now work alongside senior commanders who, just 10 years ago, she nominated as being corrupt. Ticklish, to say the least.

Scipione, Burn and the state government have refused calls for an independent judicial inquiry. The matters, they say, are being looked into by the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, David Levine, a former Supreme Court judge.

At best, this is disingenuous. Levine has told Parliament he is looking at whether Emblems' report, or its recommendations, can be released. When this reporter asked him if he was only working one day a week as Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, he declined to comment.

Levine does not have the time or resources to explore and resolve the serious matters raised by Emblems, including those involving Burn.

It appears the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, is being poorly advised. This matter has been going for 10 years and it will not go away.

A judicial inquiry is needed. The serving and former police affected deserve the truth and so do the people of NSW.


Corruption and coverup in the Victoria police again

A SENIOR Victoria Police investigator has told victims of a suspected Catholic paedophile of his "grave" concerns that his investigation into their alleged abuser is being derailed and that "pro-church police members" may have interfered in his inquiry.

In a letter sent last month to one of the alleged victims of Brother Bernard Hartman - who is accused of raping several young Victorian children and teenagers in the 1970s - the police sergeant leading the investigation into Hartman says he was removed from the case after a complaint from a high-ranking Catholic official in the US, where Hartman is on the run.

He also accuses church officials in America of "actively hindering" his inquiry.

The 26-year veteran of the police force, whom The Age has decided not to name, was removed from the Hartman case by a more senior officer last month, only days after the sergeant initiated proceedings to have the Marianist brother extradited to Australia.

"I fail to see why anyone would move such a sensitive investigation from a very experienced investigator of 26 years to … [a person who will most likely be] a young inexperienced member. One can only speculate on the motive," the sergeant states in his letter to one of Hartman's victims.

"I know there are many 'pro-church' police members throughout our organisation and I hope [the senior US Catholic official] is not canvassing them and pulling strings to derail the investigation."

The sergeant says in his letter that he has a "grave concern" that someone in the church and "possibly the police force may be trying to stifle this investigation" as it nears completion. The officer also states that he is considering reporting the matter to the police watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity.

The letter identifies the church official who complained about the sergeant to the force's Ethical Standards Department as one of the Marianist order's most powerful US officials,

Brother Joseph Kamis. "I do not know exactly why [Kamis has complained], except perhaps to try to intimidate me in my determined pursuit of Hartman."

The letter also reveals that Hartman is refusing to co-operate with authorities, based on the advice of a lawyer who "has been less than co-operative and is actively hindering the investigation, seemingly on the instructions of the church".

"I believe this person [Hartman] needs to be brought to justice as soon as possible and these developments are of great concern."

In his letter to the victim, the sergeant also reveals his concerns about the church's "very long tentacles of influence".

Hartman, 73, is a former Melbourne-based Marianist brother who returned to his native United States after working in Catholic schools in Australia in the 1970s.

US law enforcement agencies were asked earlier this year by Victoria Police to arrest and question Hartman.

That request came after several more alleged victims and a witness came forward following a report by The Age in December that revealed Hartman's 1999 written admission to Melbourne woman, Mairead Ashcroft, whom he allegedly abused when she was aged between eight and 11 years old.

However, Hartman refused to answer questions.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati this year admitted Brother Hartman was performing clerical work in a job where he operated under a "safety plan" that ensured he had no contact with young people or vulnerable women.

The latest development comes after The Age revealed earlier this year that another senior police officer had written a confidential memo outlining his concerns about the way the Catholic Church has handled sexual abuse cases in Victoria.

Victoria Police declined to comment when contacted by The Age yesterday, while Brother Kamis could not be reached.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The big grabber urged to 'stop rot' in NSW police

"Scipione" is Italian for "the big grabber" as far as I can tell:  Not reassuring in the head of a police force.  I like Italians but corruption is normal in Italy so I would never have an Italian heading a police force -- not even a half-Irish one

SENIOR NSW police have called on the Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, to "stop the rot" and respond to growing allegations of possible wrongdoing and corruption by high-ranking officers.

The contents of a secret NSW Police report, published in The Sun-Herald yesterday, alleges the Deputy Commissioner, Catherine Burn, "may have participated in police corruption" during an undercover operation.  The report, written in 2004, examined complaints against Ms Burn and other officers while they were working in the Special Crime and Internal Affairs Unit.

The allegations include that the unit induced a criminal to breach his bail in a bid to gather evidence on a police officer and then influenced him to "perjure" himself under oath.

The complaints were examined by Strike Force Emblems, which also found the unit may have engaged in "criminal conduct" when it bugged 100 serving and former police. Ms Burn was team leader within the unit at that time.

Senior police spoken to by the Herald said the allegations were affecting the public's perception of the force's senior ranks. The Herald makes no suggestion Ms Burn is corrupt.

The Greens MP David Shoebridge said the latest developments strengthened the need for a full judicial inquiry. With the Crime Commission, police internal affairs and the Police Integrity Commission all potentially compromised, he said there was no watchdog that could undertake a proper, independent investigation.

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, yesterday said he was "concerned about the continuing fallout from [Strike Force] Emblems".

One Assistant Commissioner said Mr Scipione must sort out the mess. "Where is the Commissioner on this? He needs to come out and put a stop to all the rot that's going on."


Melbourne bashing victim calls for ticket inspector inquiry

FOUR undercover ticket inspectors allegedly involved in the brutal bashing of a man at Dennis train station haven't been investigated internally.

Michael Aravopoulos, 49, claims he was punched, sat on, restrained and had his head pushed into the bitumen after being followed off the Hurstbridge line train in April 2008.

The disability pensioner, who spent 12 days in hospital, claims he produced a validated ticket and pension card when asked by a Connex officer, and was tormented as he tried to get the card back.

Two of the inspectors are employed as authorised officers by current train operator Metro, one works in a non-enforcement role and one resigned in 2010.

Mr Aravopoulos said the Department of Transport should investigate.  "There's a cover-up," he said.

Responding to a question on notice from Greens MP Greg Barber, Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said Victoria Police told the DOT it would investigate.  "So DOT did not conduct an investigation. DOT was not advised of the allegations of excessive use of force by the authorised officers at the time police initially investigated the matter," Mr Mulder told Parliament.

Mr Barber told the Herald Sun that authorised officers had police-like powers but "nothing like the oversight of police".  "Department of Transport needs to run its own investigation because it has a different set of responsibilities for supervision of authorised officers," he said.

Department spokeswoman Jo Weeks said it had co-operated with the police investigation.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Federal police coverup

The Australian Federal Police is trying to stop the release of damaging details of its dealings with the Indonesian government over the Schapelle Corby drug bust, arguing that they would damage international relations and expose crucial ways in which the organisation operates.

Schapelle's sister Mercedes has been locked in a battle with the federal police to release all communications relating to the case.

If, in the coming days, a court judge rules in her favour, previously hidden details about the case would emerge, including vital police intelligence that may have been shared with Indonesia - before and after Schapelle's arrest in 2004.

Using freedom-of-information laws, Mercedes has sought all emails, letters, files, documents and transcripts involving the then AFP commissioner, Mick Keelty, which relate to Schapelle, including full details of communications between him and Indonesian authorities.

There are almost 300 related documents but the AFP has refused to release many and redacted large parts of others on the grounds that they "may cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth" and would divulge information which was "communicated in confidence by, or on behalf of, a foreign government to the Commonwealth".

The Sun-Herald can reveal that in early July Mercedes Corby appealed against the AFP's decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane, where both parties argued their case before the deputy president P.E. Hack. She told the tribunal she had been fighting on Schapelle's behalf for eight years.

But Mr Hack warned Mercedes that any intelligence the federal police handed over to her would also be publicly available. "Once it's available to you, it's available to the world … including people who have an interest in knowing the way in which the AFP undertakes their task," he said. Mercedes responded: "We have so many questions and no answers."

While the Corby family once claimed they had no links to marijuana, Queensland Police Service archives confirm Schapelle's father Mick was arrested twice in 1973 for possessing and using cannabis. Fast forward to 2004 and three weeks before Schapelle's arrest, Mr Corby was implicated in a "Queensland Police Crime Intelligence report" as being part of a Gold Coast syndicate that was transporting drugs to Bali - using commercial passenger flights. In those statements a police informant, Kim Moore, claimed Tony Lewis - Mick Corby's best friend and next-door neighbour - was running a marijuana operation on his property. When police raided him days later, they found 200 plants and stockpiles of vacuum-sealed cannabis stored in freezers, worth more than $600,000.

Ms Moore also made further allegations about drugs being shipped to Bali on passenger jets. On October 8 - 22 days later - Schapelle was arrested with 4.2 kilograms of cannabis at Denpasar Airport.

It remains unclear whether Ms Moore's statement, and other information, was forwarded as part of the same intelligence-sharing arrangement with Indonesia that saw the Bali nine arrested seven months later. However, those answers could now be days away if Mr Hack decides the AFP is duty-bound to release files.

The AFP was represented at the tribunal by the top legal firm Clayton Utz, and AFP officers gave evidence via video link in Canberra. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Vivienne Thom, also submitted an affidavit. Mercedes Corby represented herself, with assistance from a Queensland woman, Diane Frola, director of the Australian UFO Research Network.

During the three-day hearing, AFP Commander Fiona Drennan gave evidence that some documents contained communication between Mr Keelty and the Indonesians, and to reveal those interactions would damage relations between the two nations. Mr Hack said: "So I suppose, yes, in a lot of ways there was … more than Ms Corby happening in Indonesia in the period between 2004 and 2005."

Parts of a document titled "The Prosecution of Ms Schapelle Corby in Bali for Drug Trafficking" were redacted on the basis that it contained a confidential source of information.

At one stage, Mercedes and Ms Frola were asked to leave the courtroom so the AFP could divulge information contained in the files. Intriguingly, a May 2005 Corby-related letter from Mr Keelty to then South Australian Police Commissioner Mal Hyde was blacked out. The court was also told the AFP "can't find" a letter Mr Hyde sent to Mr Keelty in December that year.


Bugging heat on top brass of NSW cops

One of the leading contenders to become the state's next police commissioner "may have participated in police corruption", according to a secret report.

The report, written in 2004, examined complaints against Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn and other officers while they were working in the Special Crime and Internal Affairs unit. The revelations are contained in the second report of Strike Force Emblems. Two weeks ago The Sun-Herald reported the first report found there may have been "criminal conduct" in the bugging of 100 serving and former police.

The second report found there was no evidence to support criminal or disciplinary charges. The Sun-Herald does not suggest Ms Burn is corrupt. But the report said investigators were denied access to crucial documents.

Internal NSW Police emails have also been obtained that reveal the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, was told of possible corruption in SCIA more than a decade ago.

One email to Mr Scipione included an allegation that SCIA allowed a heroin dealer to continue selling drugs on the northern beaches - potentially causing deaths - so the special crime unit might have more time to entrap corrupt police.

It said there was a concern some of the dealer's customers had "injected the product and subsequently died".

Mr Scipione forwarded the email to the then deputy commissioner, Ken Moroney, noting it raised "some very serious concerns".

On Friday The Sun-Herald sent a series of questions to Mr Scipione. He refused to answer them, saying: "It would be totally inappropriate to comment on any matter currently the subject of a review by the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission."

Ms Burn also refused to comment.

Mr Scipione has previously said he has not read reports by Emblems.

However, the revelations will put further pressure on the government for an independent judicial inquiry into the activities of SCIA, set up in the late 1990s to root out corruption.

The report is one of at least two by Emblems. It was set up in mid-2003 to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by officers within SCIA who worked under the umbrella of the secretive NSW Crime Commission.

Two weeks ago The Sun-Herald revealed that the first report found "criminal conduct" and revenge may have been behind an SCIA and crime commission operation that involved the bugging of the police officers.

Ms Burn was a team leader within SCIA at the time of the bugging. One of the officers she and her colleagues secretly investigated and recorded was Nick Kaldas, now the other deputy commissioner. Both are potential successors to Mr Scipione.

The second Emblems report looked at whether police attached to SCIA, including Ms Burn, induced a criminal to breach his bail in a bid to gather evidence on a police officer.

It also investigated whether the same criminal was "influenced" by SCIA officers to "perjure himself, under oath, by giving false and misleading evidence". Under the heading "Code of conduct and ethics", the second report says: "In the absence of any further evidence or information, it appears on face value … involved officers within this complaint may have participated in police corruption as defined by the NSW Police code of conduct and ethics. Within this code, it is incumbent upon police officers to report allegations of suspected corruption".

Under the heading "Police involved" it names Ms Burn and three other officers, all of whom have been promoted. One is now a member of the Australian Federal Police.

The report says there is no evidence to bring criminal or disciplinary charges against any of the officers, including Ms Burn. But it repeatedly states Emblems investigators were denied access to documents and witnesses by the Crime Commission.

The report says the complaint affecting Ms Burn and the three other officers stemmed from a kidnapping and armed robbery in Coffs Harbour in 1994. It says career criminals Terry Blewett and Craig Cant, and a third man, broke into the home of the night manager of the Coffs Harbour ex-services club. At gunpoint, they tied up the man's naked wife and kidnapped him and drove him to the club. But the club's safe was on a time delay and the robbery failed. The three were charged in 1994. One of the police involved in the arrests was a Coffs Harbour detective, Peter Burgess.

The second Emblems report says that, in February 1999, SCIA and the NSW Crime Commission started a covert investigation into police corruption called Operation Mascot. They recruited a corrupt police officer, codenamed M5, who secretly recording his colleagues for 2½ years. He alleged wrongdoing in the arrest of Blewett and the two others.

SCIA then targeted several detectives, including Mr Burgess, who was relatively junior. Mr Burgess has never been charged with any offence. He denies any wrongdoing.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald before this latest report was leaked, he told how the saga had turned his life upside down.

By May 1999 the third man in the kidnap and robbery had become an informer for SCIA. He was on bail. One bail condition was that he not approach any witnesses in his case. Mr Burgess was going to be a witness.

The Emblems report says that on May 3 that year, SCIA officers orchestrated a meeting between the third man and Mr Burgess, who by this time had quit the police and was working in a Kempsey pawnbroking business.

They wired the third man and sent him into the shop but Mr Burgess gave him short shrift. A second attempt to get information failed. Mr Burgess complained to police.

The Emblems report says on September 23, 1999, the third man was brought before Coffs Harbour District Court on the breach of bail. He told the court he had been surprised to see Mr Burgess in the shop. "I asked Mr Burgess whether he remembered me … it was as much of a surprise for me to see him there as for him to see me, I guess."

The Emblems report says: "On face value, the evidence given by [the third man] is clearly false and misleading." The Emblems report said SCIA officers involved denied knowing of the man's the bail conditions. One said he had acted "as per directions from superintendent [Cath] Burn".

The unanswered questions:

The Sun-Herald put the following questions to police chief Andrew Scipione.

In late 2001, was Mr Scipione warned, or alerted to, serious concerns that SCIA was engaged in possible wrongdoing?

If Mr Scipione was aware of serious concerns about possible wrongdoing within SCIA, apart from informing his superiors, what did he, as commander, personally do about it?

Why has Mr Scipione said, or implied, that he hasn't read the [Strike Force] Emblems report because he is bound by secrecy provisions?

Was Mr Scipione ever warned some SCIA officers were concerned that drug dealers identified by SCIA had not been arrested but allowed to continue to sell their drugs and that heroin users may have died as a result?


Dumb Victorian cops

SOUTH Australian motorists are being fined by Victorian police for not displaying registration stickers - despite the labels being abolished more than a year ago.

Concerns that hundreds of Adelaide fans who drove to Melbourne for yesterday's AFL preliminary final would be targeted by Victorian officers ignorant of SA's rego laws prompted an appeal on Friday by Public Sector Minister Michael O'Brien to Victorian Police Minister Paul Ryan.

"The South Australian Government would appreciate a reminder being issued by Victoria Police command to officers of the legal situation and their ability to verify registration by entering licence plate details into the electronic database," Mr O'Brien wrote on Friday.

Yesterday, he said some Victorian police were "causing aggravation and inconvenience for SA motorists" who are not breaking the law: "There is no offence committed and Victorian police should damn well know that and there's no excuse so it's a case of harassment."

Independent State MPs John Darley and Bob Such raised the issue with Mr O'Brien after being contacted by SA motorists who had recently been fined for not displaying a rego sticker.

Mr Darley said he knew of two motorists who were fined in the past four weeks. "I understand they had to get confirmation from motor registration that their cars were registered and send that to Victoria Police to have the fines withdrawn," Mr Darley said.

Stawell police acting sergeant Mark Stevens admitted yesterday there had been an "anomaly" where SA motorists had been fined after the law change. "We had a statewide email go out (approximately two months ago) saying SA motorists were not required to have a sticker," he said yesterday.

The stickers were abolished in July last year in order to save $2 million a year.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Scum West Australian cop

WEST Australian police are reviewing an adverse finding against an inspector accused of failing to respond to complaints about a serial pedophile at a state-run hostel.

Inspector William Todd was the officer in charge at Katanning police station in the mid-1980s when convicted pedophile Dennis McKenna was abusing boys at the town's St Andrews Hostel.

Inspector Todd told an inquiry led by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Blaxell in March that nobody had complained to him about McKenna.

However, Maggie Dawkins, who was a group leader for a state government youth training and employment project at the time, told the inquiry she had spoken to Inspector Todd about McKenna, but no action was taken.

"Inspector Todd must bear the major responsibility for the failure of Mrs Dawkins' persistent efforts to have the matter properly investigated," Mr Blaxell said in a report released yesterday.

Mrs Dawkins said today she didn't understand the reasons for the adverse finding against Inspector Todd, saying she had only sought advice from him.

"He explained to me that I needed to bring the (abused) boy in and he needed to make a statement," Mrs Dawkins told ABC radio.  "Well, the boy didn't want to do that. He was traumatised, he was humiliated, and when I couldn't do that I was told he needed dates and times and that sort of stuff.

"I accepted that, and he (Inspector Todd) told me to go to my superiors in the department and I did that."

She believed he had provided the right advice, but added, "I'm not a lawyer."

"When I went to people in authority in the community and my employers, I thought that they would take the allegations seriously.  "But what they did - because Dennis McKenna was so clever, he was able to build this manipulative sort of falsehood about me so I looked not a person that you would take any notice of - and it worked."

A spokeswoman for WA police said they were digesting the contents of the 465-page report.  "A review will be conducted into the findings of the special inquiry to determine what further action is required."


Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Watchdog" refuses to investigate the bureaucracy

AUSTRALIA's corporate watchdog badly bungled its handling of one of the nation's biggest bribery scandals by failing to interview a single relevant witness and misspelling the lead police investigator's name in emails, leaving crucial correspondence stalled or unread.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission announced in March that it would not act on a referral by the Australian Federal Police to investigate the Reserve Bank banknote scandal, despite the federal police and government lawyers finding compelling grounds to do so.

The Herald can reveal that so strong is the evidence of possible corporate malfeasance that before referring the matter to ASIC, the police considered taking the rare step of getting a special delegation from the Gillard government to investigate corporate law offences.

ASIC's failure to conduct the most basic investigation has not only infuriated senior law enforcement sources in Canberra but left a big part of the corporate corruption scandal untouched. It has also sparked questions about whether the political sensitivities that could flow from a probe that ensnared serving and former Reserve officials has influenced ASIC's conduct.

The Liberal MP Tony Smith said he intended to grill the ASIC chief, Greg Medcraft, about the issue and the independent senator Nick Xenophon questioned "the extent ASIC has been blind-sided by the fact that these allegations involve subsidiaries of the Reserve Bank.

"It seems extraordinary that given the seriousness of these allegations and what is at stake, that not one relevant witness has been interviewed by ASIC.

"This is serious enough to warrant a special taskforce from ASIC. If they need more funding from the government, they should get it," Senator Xenophon said.

A senior legal source aware of evidence implicating some of the directors of the allegedly corrupt Reserve subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia said it was very strong and included the reckless approval of payments to a suspected corrupt arms dealer and to front companies in known tax havens.

Yesterday the Herald revealed that several directors of both companies, including top Reserve officials, were told of explicit bribery and corporate corruption concerns in 2007 but chose not to call police.

It was revealed in court yesterday that a corruption whistleblower, Brian Hood, was made redundant in 2008 by the top Reserve official Bob Rankin after Mr Hood repeatedly raised corporate corruption concerns.

Australian corporate laws prohibit reckless conduct by directors and the victimisation of whistleblowers.

ASIC's task of starting an inquiry was made vastly easier after the police gave it boxes of evidence related to possible corporate charges identified during the police probe of criminal bribery offences.

But it is understood ASIC investigators did not question a single director, or interview a single relevant witness, about the material police provided.

Documents obtained by the Herald under freedom-of-information laws reveal ASIC only twice corresponded in writing with police about the scandal before deciding not to launch a formal probe.

In July last year, a senior ASIC investigator emailed the head of the police taskforce investigating Securency and NPA to seek advice. "The deputy chair of ASIC has requested that I inquire of the AFP as to the scope of its investigations and the charges that have been laid, before ASIC makes any decision as to whether we need to investigate anything arising from this matter," the ASIC investigator wrote.

"ASIC would not want to duplicate any work that the AFP has already undertaken so it would be appreciated if you could assist ASIC in determining whether it should commence any investigation."

But the investigator misspelt the email address of the police officer, calling him Roland Pike instead of Rohan Pike. This meant Mr Pike did not receive the initial email.

In the email, ASIC also mistakenly wrote that the police were "given delegation by the minister to prosecute Corporations Act offences as part of their investigation", despite the fact that this was not ultimately given to the federal police by the government. ASIC declined to release the only other correspondence between it and the police, emails sent in March just before it announced it would not investigate directors of the Reserve firms. Police have charged Securency, NPA and eight former executives with criminal bribery offences but no action has been taken against the directors.

Mr Medcraft has yet to explain publicly the basis for his decision not to investigate, despite promising more openness about watchdog decisions.

An ASIC spokesman said a thorough assessment of the material provided by the police had been done before it was decided not to investigate. He declined to answer specific questions.


Three separate watchdogs for the NSW police -- and all were in bed together

So there was no restraint on police misbehaviour

Peter Burgess loved being a NSW cop. Absolutely loved it, ever since he joined in 1987. He worked in the country pretty much his whole career: Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, not bad places to be a detective and raise a family.

It all changed in 1997. About August-September that year, his life was thrown into turmoil, thanks to the actions of police within the Special Crime and Internal Affairs unit, known as SCIA, the so-called "white knights". Their job was to root out corruption.

But hundreds of pages of confidential NSW Police documents seen by the Herald say some officers within SCIA committed criminal offences to charge or discredit colleagues, sometimes on the basis of "personal vendettas".

The documents reveal some SCIA police falsified information to bug phones and install listening devices.

And in the case of Burgess, the documents allege they induced a criminal to not only twice breach his bail but also to perjure himself in front of a judge. All in the name of getting a brief on Burgess, who to this day has not been charged with any offence.

In the process, his health suffered, clumps of his hair fell out and a once social and outgoing man became withdrawn and far less trusting of others. At one stage he feared for his life and that of his family. Among many honest officers targeted by SCIA, his story is disturbingly familiar.

It starts in early 1994, when three violent criminals broke into the home of the night manager of the Coffs Harbour ex-services club.

At gunpoint, they tied up his naked wife and then kidnapped the man and took him to the club so he could open it up. They couldn't get in and the attempted robbery failed.

In April 1994, Burgess and other police arrested and charged Terry Blewett, Craig Cant and a third man, we will call him "Jones". Blewett had already served time in jail for robbing a cash-in-transit van during which a guard was shot and seriously wounded. He was a suspect in another similar robbery in which a guard was murdered.

The documents seen by the Herald show that sometime later Jones became an informer for the SCIA. He alleged wrong-doing, not so much by Burgess, but by other officers from the Major Crime Squad North who had become involved in the case.

And that's when Burgess's nightmare began.

As the case against the alleged kidnappers rolled on, Burgess applied for, and was granted, a year's leave without pay. He had three children from a previous marriage, but he and his second wife, Cherie, wanted to have kids. They planned to enter the IVF program, never easy at the best of times. The day before his leave was due to begin in 1997, he was told it had been "disapproved".

There was no explanation.

Burgess told the Herald this week: "They said, 'You are to report back tomorrow'. I was angry, I was just furious."

Cherie still remembers the day. "I was just totally shocked. I said to Pete, 'you are joking, this is just bullshit'."

They believe his leave was cancelled because he was under investigation and SCIA wanted him at work so they had easy access. By now, Jones, the informer, was out on bail. In disgust, Burgess quit the job he loved. "I told them they could shove it up their arse," he said this week.

By 1999, he was working in a pawn shop in Kempsey. On May 5 that year, to his dismay, in walked Jones.

Ostensibly, the meeting was a coincidence. Jones said he was trying to pawn a video recorder. But he also sought to engage Burgess in conversation about the case. The cop in him was immediately suspicious, and told him to leave.

One of Jones's bail conditions was to not approach witnesses. Yet he turned up again on May 24, and Burgess suspected he was wearing a listening device and was sent by SCIA officers in direct breach of his bail conditions.

Burgess reported the incidents. Jones appeared on the breach of bail matter in Coffs Harbour District Court on September 23, 1999.

He gave evidence he had been "surprised and shocked" to see Burgess at the pawnbrokers.

Burgess complained to the Commissioner of Police and the Police Integrity Commission about SCIA's behaviour. He also believed Jones had perjured himself in court.

In a letter, dated September 27, 1999, his solicitor wrote it had become apparent "[Jones] had entered our client's premises at the behest of internal affairs officers". He asked the commissioner to investigate whether Jones had committed perjury by saying he was "surprised and shocked" to see Burgess, whether SCIA officers had instructed him to lie in court and, if so, whether they had perverted the course of justice.

Unbeknown to Burgess or his solicitor, at that very time SCIA, along with the NSW Crime Commission, was running a covert inquiry into police corruption called Operation Mascot. The Police Integrity Commission joined the inquiry in July 1999.

As Burgess says now, given SCIA and the Crime Commission were working hand in glove with the PIC, the police watchdog, it is little wonder his complaints fell on deaf ears. He says one of his complaints was found, years later, in the bottom drawer of a senior SCIA officer who had left the unit. When an inquiry was finally attempted in 2003, investigators were blocked by the secrecy provisions of the Crime Commission.

Cherie recalled this week that after Jones came into the pawn shop the family lived in fear because they knew what had happened to the night manager and his wife. "It petrified me that we could be next. [SCIA] put Peter and our family in danger.

"I find this incredibly unfair that they can break the law and they are not accountable. What they did to Pete has haunted him for all these years."

Blewett, Cant and the informer were eventually acquitted. Burgess blames the SCIA. Blewett has since disappeared and is believed murdered. Cant was jailed in Darwin on major drug charges. The fate of Jones is unknown.

The SCIA officers alleged to have been involved have been promoted or left the force. Peter and Cherie Burgess now run a business on the north coast. Their attempts at IVF were unsuccessful.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trigger-happy NSW cops again -- covered up, of course

No charges against shooter depite Coroner's recommendation

Jeremy Holcombe cannot sleep. He cannot work, he cannot relax and he is obsessed with bad news. He was hospitalised with panic attacks on the third anniversary of his son Elijah's death in June this year.

The physical manifestation of his grief continues, unabated.

Then came the letter from prosecutors late last month, indicating they would not be pursing the police officer who shot the mentally ill Elijah Holcombe for murder or manslaughter, despite a coroner's view that such charges could be proffered.

For Mr Holcombe, this was just another heart-wrenching chapter in the tragic saga - as another is only just beginning. Mr Holcombe and his late wife's estate have launched civil action against the State of NSW, claiming the Holcombes have suffered greatly from the "unlawful" and "negligent" conduct of Senior Constable Andrew Rich and his employer, the NSW Police Force.

In particular, they claim he did not heed warnings about Elijah's mental illness and was not justified in shooting the man who health workers simply wanted to be returned to hospital for treatment.

Documents filed with the NSW District Court outline the repeated alerts issued over the police system warning officers searching for the 24-year-old that he "suffers from mental health issues and is extremely frightened of police - use caution when dealing with - concerns he will run".

Just hours earlier, Elijah had presented at Armidale police station to return his father's car, which he had used to flee his parents' home in Narrabri, and requested hospital treatment. He was taken to Armidale Hospital where nurses expressed concerns for his mental state, but as a voluntary patient he could leave whenever he pleased. He did - but worried health workers asked police to help find him and bring him back, so alerts were issued asking patrol officers to keep an eye out.

About 4pm that day he was spotted, and an officer began a pursuit, chasing Elijah through a mall, a cafe and then into a laneway. Senior Constable Rich called out to Elijah: "Stop or I will shoot."

Armed with a bread knife grabbed in the cafe, but still at least eight metres from the officer, Elijah turned to face Senior Constable Rich and was fatally shot with a single bullet.

"Elijah died because of the unlawful and negligent conduct of [the officer]," the Holcombes argue in their negligence suit. "There is no reasonable possibility that [the officer's] response was a reasonable response to the circumstances as he perceived them … [He] was not acting in self-defence … at the time of the shooting, [the officer] knew or ought to have known that Elijah had not committed or was not committing an offence which warranted the use of lethal force."

Police said they could not comment on the case because it is before court.

Jeremy Holcombe told The Sun-Herald he wished no ill on anyone involved in Elijah's death but hoped at least a civil court could adjudicate on what occurred.

His solicitor, David Sweeney, added: "People often get relief when there's recognition of their injustices."

The State Coroner, Mary Jerram, shut down the inquest into Elijah's death in October 2010, referring the case to the DPP for consideration of charges. The case will now return to her at a date in the future, while the civil case returns to court later this month.

The Holcombes' criminal solicitor, Philip Stewart, told the The Sun-Herald he had urged the coroner to resume the inquest, taking evidence from the remaining listed witnesses.

"One would hope that the police have the fortitude to allow themselves to be questioned," he said.


NSW cops: No-one was watching the crooked watchdog

And it's still being protect by a coverup

Documents obtained by The Sun-Herald, allege some officers in Special Crime and Internal Affairs - or SCIA - falsified information to obtain listening devices, telephone intercepts and search warrants and, in one case, induced a criminal to commit perjury in front of a magistrate.

They also show that Parliament, the public and rank-and-file police have been repeatedly misled about the reasons why one listening device warrant contained the names of 112 serving and former police and two civilians, including a journalist.

In that case, many officers, including the present deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, believed they were victims of a personal "vendetta" by officers within SCIA.
Malcolm Brammer and detective sgt. John Dolan.

Former detective inspector Malcolm Brammer (left) and former detective sergeant John Dolan in 1991. Photo: Supplied

And M5 - the corrupt officer turned undercover operator who secretly taped his colleagues - agreed. He told investigators: "I was assisting, nurturing corruption." He also said: "I smelt a rat … I was settling old scores which related to my supervising Superintendent."

The bombshell allegations are contained in long-suppressed reports of internal strike forces code-named Sibutu, Tumen and Emblems, which were established to investigate complaints made about SCIA between 1997 and 2002.

The Sun-Herald has now seen copies of all three reports, which the police hierarchy and successive governments have refused to release.

Strike Force Emblems was set up in 2003 to investigate a controversial listening-device warrant approved in September, 2000. It contained the names of 112 serving and former police and two civilians - and it was one of dozens sought by SCIA officers and the NSW Crime Commission, which were running a covert inquiry into police corruption, Operation Mascot.

But its net was so wide that it placed under surveillance dozens of honest officers, including the current deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes, Assistant Commissioner Ken Mackay, and Detective Superintendent Paul Jones.

The key player in Operation Mascot was a corrupt NSW cop, code-named M5, who wore a listening device for two and a half years and recorded hundreds of conversations with his colleagues. His home was also bugged, as was his car, his briefcase and his mobile phone.

The Emblems report says eight SCIA officers, including its then boss, Assistant Commissioner Mal Brammer, his deputy Superintendent John Dolan and then acting Inspector Cath Burn were among those investigated. Ms Burn is now Mr Kaldas's fellow deputy commissioner, and both are touted as potential commissioners. Emblems does not make any findings against any particular officer.

It says its inquiries were hampered by the refusal of the NSW Crime Commission to hand over crucial documents, including affidavits, and it therefore could not reach definitive conclusions.

Nevertheless, it found:

* There were clear indications that "criminal conduct may have occurred surrounding the affidavit".

* On the available evidence there was no justification for 54 serving and former police and the journalist Steve Barrett being placed on the listening-device warrant.

Previous Strike Forces Sibutu, Tumen and Operation Banks had identified "systemic corruption and mismanagement" within SCIA in relation to listening devices, telephone intercepts and search warrants. Serious adverse findings of corruption had been found against senior officers attached to SCIA.

Strike Force Emblems suspected similar "alleged corruption". It reveals M5 became disillusioned with his SCIA handlers and believed they were sending him to record conversations with honest police in a bid to settle old scores. It is believed one of those was Mr Kaldas.

It is well known in police circles that at one stage, Mr Kaldas and John Dolan had a serious disagreement. Emblems says that, about a month after that confrontation, M5 approached Mr Kaldas, who then became suspicious and reported the matter to the then deputy commissioner, Ken Moroney.

M5, who worked undercover between February 1999 and mid-2001, said: "I was sent by my supervising Superintendent to a particular person five or six times, I smelt a rat … I was settling old scores." He said he was uncertain of the true motives of those supervising him.

Mr Brammer, who left the force in mid-2002, yesterday denied any wrongdoing and strenuously denied any knowledge of a vendetta. [See separate story.]

Mr Brammer has been the subject of adverse findings in previous internal police reports, including for "untruthfulness" a "manifest conflict of interest" as well as "bias" and "a lack of fairness". One inquiry found he allegedly perverted the course of justice by improperly arranging an internal investigation against an officer.

Mr Dolan, who has also left the force, could not be reached for comment.

Mr Brammer has previously said Operation Mascot was run with the full co-operation and supervision of the Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission. He said the current Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, was involved at the time and he knew of no improper conduct by Ms Burn or anyone else.

At least one former SCIA officer has raised the "vendetta" allegation. In a formal record of interview with one of Emblems' predecessors, Strike Force Tumen, the detective Paul Albury says he thought the targeting of Mr Kaldas was based more on a "personal vendetta" rather than any evidence.

The officer says there was deep concern by some within the unit that serving and former officers were being targeted on the basis of "third and fourth-person hearsay".

The previous Labor government and the O'Farrell government have refused to release the Emblems report, despite the current police minister, Mike Gallacher, pushing for its release while in opposition.

The Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, David Levine, has been asked by the State Government to investigate whether the Strike Force Emblems report can be released. He is currently working his way though documents provided to him by NSW Police and the Crime Commission. It is not known when his inquiry will be completed.

Some former detectives named on the warrant believe he has not been given the resources needed to get to the bottom of the long-running saga. They believe an independent judicial inquiry is required - free of police intervention.

They say the Police Integrity Commission is disqualified from investigating the matter because it was intimately involved with SCIA and the Crime Commission in Operation Mascot from an early stage.

Strike Force Emblems interviewed 35 people who complained about their names being on the warrant. Emblems found there was no justification for 22 of those, including Mr Kaldas, being on the warrant. Overall, it found that of the 114 people named, there was probably no justification for 54 of them being on it.

"The use of 114 names on the subject listening device is an abuse of process and not in the 'spirit' of the legislation. It is not conceivable each person would be part of a conversation over a 21-day period."

(Warrants are approved for 21 days. Police need to reapply if they want to continue bugging).

Many other police named on the warrant are respected and senior detectives. The vast majority have never been told why they appeared on the warrant, let alone questioned or charged.

Emblems investigators said their inquiries were hampered because the then head of the NSW Crime Commission, Phil Bradley, after initially agreeing to co-operate, refused to hand over crucial documents. These included affidavits which were presented to the Supreme Court to support the application for the listening device.

Strike force investigators, which included five detective inspectors, clearly found themselves under intense pressure and took the extraordinary step of recording their fears that they may be subject to "payback".

"Although there is no evidence of a 'payback' or 'reprisal', the nature of the Strike Force Emblems investigation, with the alleged corruption identified, indicates there is a potential for retribution against Strike Force members," the Emblems report said.

Investigators also reveal they were directed to be less than truthful with the 35 people who formally complained about their names being on the warrant.

It says they were "instructed" to tell complainants "we are working towards obtaining the affidavit".

"At no time have the complainants been informed that the affidavit has been refused or that the Crime Commission is being obstructive."

The Sun-Herald asked Mr Scipione, Ms Burn and Mr Kaldas for comment.

Through a spokesman, Mr Kaldas said he was "unable to comment".

Ms Burn did not wish to comment, except to say she had never been the commander of SCIA.

The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, said: "All matters relating to Strike Force Emblems and any associated materials have been referred to the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission. NSW Police has provided all materials asked for by the inspector."


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Victorian cops over-reach

You would think that they would check the law before they acted -- but perhaps not with Vic cops

POLICE have been forced to hand back chemicals capable of being turned into an ecstasy-type drug to a Camberwell schoolgirl, after they discovered that it is not illegal for the girl to possess them.

Boroondara detectives confiscated the stash of chemicals and 1000 empty gel capsules last week after the mother of the 15-year-old found them in the girl's bedroom and called the police. The haul included 10 sealed bags of various chemicals - including hordenine, caffeine, phenylethylamine (or PEA) and phenibut - valued at $1000.

On internet forums, people who combined hordenine and PEA described the effects as "super euphoria" and "a really evil high", while others reported suffering a headache while coming down from the drugs and speculated that the combination could cause a stroke.

"When mixed properly, these make up a drug that has the same effect as ecstasy," Detective Senior Sergeant Daryl Cullen said. "The caffeine is used to prolong the effect."

Senior Sergeant Cullen said the schoolgirl had been given the cache by a 16-year-old boy, also from Camberwell, who had bought them on the internet. Police interviewed the youth, who was warned of the potential harmful effects of the chemicals and buying from unknown sources on the internet.

However, legal advice indicated that neither teenager had committed an offence and that the chemicals would have to be returned.

Senior Sergeant Cullen said the chemicals were ordered from well-known international websites Hard Rhino and Muscle-Empire and mailed from San Jose in California. "They obviously got through Australian Customs no problems," Senior Sergeant Cullen said.

"These websites advertise these chemicals under the guise of muscle stimulants and dietary supplements, which are all perfectly legal. It's their potential for other uses that alarms us."

Senior Sergeant Cullen said young people, parents and schools had to be aware of the potential dangers of ordering from these websites.

"I've personally never come across these type of drugs, and in such quantity before, but nothing surprises me in the policing business."


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Junior Qld. cop caught taking drugs in undercover sting

Peter Michael

UNDERCOVER police busted a young constable using ecstasy during a covert operation in a popular far-North party scene

In the latest scandal to embroil incoming Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, Ethical Standards Command ordered local detectives to run an internalal affairs investigation into the junior officer.

The top-level probe came after drug squad officers identified the constable buying and taking the party drug ecstasy with friends on social outings in Cairns.

The Brisbane-based drug squad operatives had been in the tropical north as part of a series of top-secret investigations into alleged drug trafficking syndicates operating from Melbourne to the Gold Coast to Cairns.

It is understood the police constable, the son of a highly respected 35-year veteran of the Queensland Police Service, was picked up by surveillance interacting with priority targets in the underworld sting. The Courier-Mail understands the policeman apologised for the shame, hurt and embarrassment he caused to the QPS, in particular his father, and has since resigned

The above story appeared in the "Courier Mail" on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, p.7

Calls for Qld. police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras to limit corruption

Failure to dob crooked colleagues will also be penalized

THERE are calls to force police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras after footage surfaced of a rogue detective allegedly pocketing stolen cash.

Incoming Police Commissioner Ian Stewart vowed to sack the officer - who is currently on leave while being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission - if he is found guilty.

Mr Stewart went further in warning other police would face sanctions for turning a blind eye to corruption.

The Courier-Mail can reveal today that the drug squad detective sergeant at the centre of the latest scandal had been oblivious to any secret anti-graft probe until he walked in on senior officers talking about a "rogue cop" and "a rat in the ranks" after an unauthorised leak from internal affairs and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The officer reportedly spontaneously vomited in front of his colleagues in a physical reaction of shock.

Shortly after, the officer contacted lawyers and took leave from the QPS. He has spent the past few weeks in Belmont Private Hospital undergoing mental health assessment.

Queensland Police Union and Civil Liberties yesterday joined calls to provide officers in top-level raids with body-worn video cameras.

In July last year, officers in Townsville and Toowoomba wore the clip-on devices in a six-month trial.

Police Union President Ian Leavers said he had been calling for them to be worn as a rule rather than by exception for two years. "I know if these were used (by police) both the public and the police themselves would have complete faith in their actions," he said.

He said the union was assisting the officer, who had not been formally interviewed or charged, in the preliminary investigation.

Terry O'Gorman, President of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, backed the calls for police video.

"Every time police kick in doors in top-level raids, they should be wearing these body cameras," said Mr O'Gorman, a criminal lawyer. "Police stealing money on drug raids was a significant problem pre-Fitzgerald and one that required police to change their procedures.

Mr Stewart sounded a warning to any police who failed to blow the whistle on corruption.

"Stealing is a criminal offence. We cannot have thieves in the Queensland Police Service," he said. "The future will show that officers not only should come forward and raise those allegations, if they don't, certainly they face very severe penalties themselves.

"Ethics is not something you can turn on and turn off. It's like being pregnant - you can't be half pregnant. You either have your ethics and credibility or you don't."

He promised a speedy investigation. "There are some minor hold-ups and that deals with the specific case and circumstances that we find ourselves in but as soon as possible this matter will be wrapped up and dealt with," he said.

Mr Stewart will take over from outgoing Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson who retires at the end of October.


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."