Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cop in the dock after drug raid in Maryborough, Victoria

A MAN saw "stars I'd never seen before" after a Victorian policeman "choke slammed" him on a concrete floor during a drug raid, a court has heard.

It was also alleged police told Darren Joy to tell anyone who asked that his injured collarbone was a result of falling off a ladder.

Sen-Constable Grant Allan from Maryborough is charged with 10 offences including intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly causing serious injury, and perverting the course of justice.

Mr Joy told a committal hearing at Bendigo Magistrates' Court yesterday police had come to his Maryborough home with a warrant early in the morning looking for drugs.

Constable Allan pushed him inside the house after telling him "I'm sick of you monkeys lying to us". Mr Joy, 46, said the policeman then gripped his throat. "He carried me from the kitchen to the lounge room and then choke slammed me," he said. "He just lost it. I was seeing stars that I'd never seen before."

Mr Joy denied he was a drug mule but admitted to smoking marijuana frequently.

Another policeman who was at the scene of the alleged assault, Sen-Constable Charles Heatherley, said he had witnessed a physical altercation between Mr Joy and Constable Allan, despite earlier claiming he hadn't seen anything. Constable Heatherley gave evidence that he had changed his original statement because it was filled with lies.

Constable Heatherley denied pointing the finger at his colleague to spare himself from charges. He said the experience of the drug search and OPI inquiry had put him on the brink of a breakdown.

Australian Crime Commission bungles revealed

A TOP national security agency has suffered a massive blow-out in breaches of its own security, exposing secret operations to outsiders in a trail of embarrassing Get Smart-style bungles.

Australian Crime Commission staff are increasingly compromising or risking investigations as classified intelligence documents are lost, sensitive equipment is misplaced or stolen, and buildings left exposed in often comical circumstances.

Breaches have risen six-fold over the past five years and include a stressed investigator with a full bladder hearing his car being broken into while urinating on a beach.

Secure cabinets have been left open, a package was sent to the wrong address and a sensitive video conference accidentally beamed into the wrong room.

In a "major security breach" in Melbourne last October, security minutes indicate the ACC was forced to suppress a person's information from the public, change their phone and re-register a vehicle after an investigator left intelligence papers on a car roof.

Left it on the bus

"I left carpark, inadvertently leaving the vehicle log book/folder on the roof tucked under the roof rack of the vehicle," the official explained. "An 'ACC HIGHLY PROTECTED' document has been placed within the vehicle log book/folder (instead of a secure briefcase)."

An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has learned the ACC has recorded at least 48 internal security breaches over the past two years after only 24 cases in the previous three.

Documents obtained under freedom of information reveal secure cabinets are left open and staff share security log-ins with unauthorised colleagues, risking a "severe impact on security and integrity".

The most common breach involved staff taking up to a month to report lost security ID passes for ACC offices after losing them in taxis, drains, buses, pubs, airports or on the way to the optometrist, while some cards were not returned by visitors.

Staff found guilty

In one of 25 cases last year - after rising from only four breaches in 2007 - a video conference was beamed into a room at the ACC Canberra HQ, where an outsider was waiting to be interviewed by human resources. "The interviewee was left alone unmonitored," a minute states.

ACC chief executive John Lawler yesterday admitted the number of breaches was too high but said all cases were reported and investigated because of a positive culture of self-reporting and awareness.

"While the number of security breaches is higher than I would like, I would much prefer to know of security breaches," he said. "The ACC places great importance on the security of its premises, people and information."

Three staff have been found guilty of code of conduct breaches, including the investigator with the full bladder who suffered a 2 per cent pay cut and reprimand, but most cases result in little more than staff counselling, such as the car roof error.

In April 2010, a senior investigator in Sydney left 110MB of files relating to the ACC stored on a laptop he had handed in.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Police scams uncovered forcing two detectives to quit

TWO detectives have quit Victoria Police after admitting they lied to the Office of Police Integrity.

One of them was being investigated over allegedly illegally obtaining a television set recovered during a police raid. The other allegedly got the windows of his personal car tinted then claimed the work was done on a police vehicle.

Magistrate Kate Hawkins said last week that she hoped their cases would send a message to all police that engaging in even minor crimes could cost them their careers.

Leading Senior Constables Richard Sully and Robert Brown were both detectives at the Wonthaggi criminal investigations unit.

Sully, 42, pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week to misleading the OPI director in a private hearing. He was fined $4000 without conviction. Brown, 39, pleaded guilty to misleading the OPI director and was fined $2000 without conviction.

Both men resigned from Victoria Police shortly before their court appearance.

The OPI had evidence of them both lying as they contradicted evidence they gave under oath at private OPI hearings.

Brown was accused of obtaining a television set that had been recovered during a police raid on the home of a known burglar.

He then allegedly told an insurance company the television was damaged when it was actually working, and he then purchased it a reduced price.

Sully was being investigated over the window tinting he allegedly got for his personal car. Charges were laid over the window tinting and television allegations, but were later withdrawn.

Magistrate Kate Hawkins said their cases should send a message to all police that they must not compromise their integrity and must act with honesty at all times.

In sentencing Sully and Brown, Ms Hawkins said every police officer must be above reproach and must tell the truth at all times, whatever cost.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Victoria police sure have got their priorities right

Man claims he was fined $200 for emptying water bottle

A MAN claiming he was fined more than $200 for pouring half a bottle of water on the street says he will fight the penalty.

Truckie Michael Hagen, from Berwick, says he had no idea he was doing anything wrong when he emptied the bottle while pulling up at a Melbourne CBD intersection on Wednesday afternoon.

But moments later Mr Hagen was pulled over and handed an infringement notice for littering.

"I still to this day don't know if what I did was breaking the law. "I didn't even know what I was doing was wrong. It didn't even enter my mind actually," Mr Hagen said.

He said he stopped at the Clarendon St intersection when he poured the bottle's warm contents from the driver's side of the car onto the bitumen before driving off.

He was then pulled over near Crown Casino for what he thought he was a routine check. "I thought they were going to give me a breathalyser or a general check, but they gave me an infringement notice for littering," Mr Hagen said.

"They said: 'You poured a liquid substance out of the window.' I said: 'It's water.' They said: 'How do we know it's water? It could be anything'."

He said it was over-the-top policing and he planned to fight the fine in court. "I was a little bit animated. I wasn't very happy, especially when they gave me a ticket. I wasn't impressed. "They should be paying attention to people jaywalking across the road, that's my concern," Mr Hagen said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said they were tracking details of the offence yesterday and wouldn't comment.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Victoria Police confess legal shortcut a threat to thousands of criminal cases

THREE-QUARTERS of Victoria Police officers have confessed to illegally preparing affidavits used to get search and other warrants.

An investigation by the force has identified almost 3000 pending criminal cases in Magistrates' courts which could be affected by the affidavit bungle and faulty affidavits will also be an issue in 299 upcoming Supreme and County Court cases.

Hundreds of convicted criminals are also likely to try to get their convictions overturned by arguing evidence obtained from dodgy affidavits was wrongly used against them.

"There are certainly cases we will be losing and there are others where we will lose some of the charges," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said yesterday.

The more than 9000 police who recently admitted failing to correctly swear affidavits were flushed out by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay's promise not to take disciplinary action against officers who confessed.

Mr Lay's amnesty, which was revealed in the Herald Sun in December last year, resulted in 75 per cent of the force signing disclosure forms admitting to incorrectly preparing affidavits.

A Victoria Police probe into the problem revealed the practice of officers failing to swear affidavits started at least 15 years ago and involves ranks right up to deputy commissioner.

The Herald Sun has also discovered:

POLICE will stop investigations and not lay charges in some cases as a result of faulty affidavits.

SOME of the forces most experienced detectives, including from the Purana gangland killing taskforce, the homicide squad, the Ethical Standards Department and the drug taskforce, have admitted flouting the law for years by not swearing affidavits.

THE embarrassing debacle has also infected the vast majority of suburban and country police stations.

Mr Cartwright stressed that not swearing an affidavit did not mean the contents of the affidavit were false as officers believed that by signing it they were attesting to its accuracy.

But he said he wasn't making excuses for so many in the force having incorrectly prepared affidavits for so long.

"It is deeply regrettable that we have actually had to go through this," Mr Cartwright said.

"We have 9000 members who say basically we got it wrong, or we are not sure we got it right. We shouldn't have got to that situation.

"Having said that, once we have discovered the problem we have worked really hard, and we continue to work hard, to fix it."

"What the challenge is now is to make sure that in future we don't have other similar problems and that we have fixed whatever it is that is the root of this problem."

Tony Mokbel and notorious underworld heavy Sean Sonnet have already seized on the police stuff-up to try to get off drug and conspiracy to commit murder charges.

The revelations in today's Herald Sun are expected to prompt hundreds of others to follow their lead as accused and convicted criminals discover there is every chance their cases involve unsworn affidavits.

Mr Cartwright said some long-serving members of high profile squads involved in major drug and organised crime cases had admitted to never having correctly sworn an affidavit.

"So you can imagine that every case that will have come out of those particular areas will be tested," he said.

Mr Cartwright said it was impossible to say how many prosecutions would be affected as the problem was being handled on a case by case basis as each accused or convicted person came before a court.

He said it will be up to the magistrate or judge in each case to decide whether or not to admit evidence obtained as a result of police using unsworn affidavits.

A judge in one current high-profile case, who can't be named for legal reasons, recently ruled evidence from search warrants was illegally obtained through improperly prepared affidavits.

But the judge used his discretionary power to still allow the evidence into the trial, saying doing so was more desirable than throwing it out.

"The probity value outweighed the prejudicial value is basically what he has found," Mr Cartwright said.

Police and prosecutors are hoping many more judges and magistrates come to the same conclusion as the thousands of cases affected by dodgy affidavits get to court in coming months.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thug Qld. Cop loses appeal against finding that he used excessive force in arrest of boy, 15

A FORMER police officer has lost an appeal against a finding he used unauthorised and unjustified excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy almost five years ago.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed an appeal by former police sergeant Damien Chapman to overturn a tribunal finding that he used excessive force while arresting the teen at Clontarf, north of Brisbane, on May 18, 2007.

Chapman was initially cleared after an internal Queensland Police Service investigation by then QPS deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders. [Dear Kathy again]

However, that resulted in the matter being referred to QCAT by Queensland's criminal watchdog the Crime and Misconduct Commission. The CMC asked QCAT to review commissioner Rynders' findings and last November the tribunal overturned her decision and found that Chapman had used excessive force.

The 15-year-old, who was not responsible for the offence for which he was arrested, suffered a severely ruptured spleen, which doctors found was the result of blunt force to the area underneath his ribs.

At the original QCAT hearing, Chapman's defence argued the medical report was too inconclusive to say without doubt how the injury occurred. QCAT members James Thomas and Susan Booth disagreed, saying they were satisfied Chapman struck the boy without "authorisation, justification or excuse by law".

They were also critical of the internal police investigation, which they likened to "a relic of earlier armed service orderly room procedure".

QCAT president Alan Wilson, in a just-published 10-page decision, rejected Chapman's appeal, saying it "must be dismissed".

Justice Wilson, presiding in the tribunal's appeals jurisdiction, said the original finding was proper in all of the circumstances.

He said Chapman's appeal had focused on "numerous questions of law", but mainly argued the tribunal's decision was "contrary to, and against, the weight of evidence". "None of (Chapman's) grounds of appeal are made out," he said.

Chapman resigned in the wake of the QCAT ruling. Justice Wilson said during a follow-up hearing the tribunal found it would have ordered he be dismissed had he not already resigned.


Monday, February 20, 2012

More barefaced lies from the Qld. police

It would become them a lot better if they stopped lying and came clean but they know they are a protected class so have nothing to lose

But they must be rattled now that a newspaper has obtained a copy of the totally dishonest official charge sheet. There is obviously a decent police insider who is disgusted with them

POLICE will describe the shocking bashing of a young man in the basement of a Gold Coast police station as "a brief struggle".

CCTV footage showing officers manhandling, kneeing and punching 21-year-old chef Noa Begic at Surfers Paradise police station has gone viral since it was obtained by The Courier-Mail last week.

One of the officers involved already has been pulled from frontline duties while a joint Ethical Standards Command and Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation is under way. Police are also investigating how The Courier-Mail obtained the video.

The newspaper has obtained a copy of the official charge sheet, with the arresting officers painting a different picture of what happened in the early hours of January 29.

The police statement reports Mr Begic landed face-first on the basement floor because he slipped out of the hands of officers and fell over.

"The defendant planted his feet ... and pushed towards police in a rapid movement which caused police to lose hold of the defendant," the statement reads. "The defendant then fell to the ground."

According to police, Mr Begic then stood up and continued resisting so violently he again fell, dragging officers down with him, despite their repeated instructions to "stop resisting". "After a brief struggle the defendant was secured in a prisoner transport van," the statement continued.

There is no mention of the flurry of punches that followed once Mr Begic was placed in the back of the wagon. The court brief lists the CCTV footage as evidence to support a charge of obstructing police. Police also will call upon footage from Gold Coast City Council cameras in the area where the arrest took place.

It will be alleged Mr Begic was at the corner of Cavill Ave and Orchid Ave about 3.10am with a group of friends when he was approached by police for swearing loudly in reference to two other officers.

The police statement alleges Mr Begic refused to answer questions and laughed loudly at police "on two occasions". He was arrested on a charge of public nuisance relating to his indecent language and escorted to a nearby police car where his "abusive, indecent language and aggressive behaviour" escalated as he demanded to know why he had been arrested.

Mr Begic, who is considering a civil lawsuit against police, will face court in April charged with public nuisance and obstructing police.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Qld. cops to investigate their own toothless watchdog

QUEENSLAND police have been told to investigate the state's corruption body for failing to interview a decorated former homicide detective named in the Dangerous Liaisons report.

Dangerous Liaisons - released in July 2009 by the Crime and Misconduct Commission - detailed various allegations against 25 police officers.

Former homicide detective Darren Hall said the CMC did not interview him during its five-year investigation. No charges were laid against any of the 25 officers.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee, which oversees the CMC, informed Mr Hall the matter had been referred back to police. "The committee has resolved to ask the police service to investigate your complaints and provide a report on the matters to the committee," a letter addressed to Mr Hall said. "The committee will be in further contact with you once it has received and considered the report from the Queensland Police Service."

Mr Hall said he only wanted justice to be served properly after the report ruined his career. "I suppose hopefully it will mean it will be investigated," he told The Courier-Mail. "And that they will be brought to justice for what they haven't done during those five years - which is interview me and give me a chance to defend myself."

The order for police to investigate the CMC provides another twist to their rocky relationship which was heavily damaged during the investigation into the 2004 death of Mulrunji on Palm Island.

The latest development follows a push from Independent MP Rob Messenger for an inquiry. "This matter casts serious doubt over the integrity of the CMC both past and present," Mr Messenger said. "I have grave doubts that the Queensland police force is up to the task of investigating it and I believe the only solution is for an independent inquiry and I'd hope and demand that (LNP leader) Campbell Newman will support me with my call - and I won't waste my breath with (Anna) Bligh or Labor."

Lawyer Greg Williams, who has supported Mr Hall in his fight, said he believed it was a "world first" for a police force to investigate its own corruption body.

"Even the CMC is not immune to scrutiny - and they shouldn't be," he said. "I believe they have failed miserably by not giving Darren an opportunity to respond to allegations made in their report."

Top defender for bashing defendant

ALLEGED police bashing victim Noa Begic will be represented by the lawyer who defended wrongly accused terror suspect Mohamed Haneef.

The 21-year-old chef is facing minor charges of public nuisance and obstructing police over his arrest in the early hours of January 29 in Surfers Paradise.

But he is also considering launching a civil action against the police officers who allegedly left him bashed and bloodied in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station - an incident made public when The Courier-Mail revealed the CCTV footage.

Peter Russo, who helped Dr Haneef beat terror charges, met Mr Begic yesterday and confirmed he would represent him in court, but was reluctant to comment further. "It's very early days," he said.

Mr Begic also has another white knight in his corner - a former model who took on the police and won after five years of harassment and intimidation.

Renee Eaves leapt to Mr Begic's defence and said she would use her experience to help the young dad if he took on the police service in court. She arranged for him to meet Mr Russo, one of Queensland's highest-profile lawyers.

"Police can use what they call 'reasonable force', but how much force is needed when someone is handcuffed and locked in the back of a wagon?" she asked. "I would say none."

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has stood by his comment that officers can be justified in punching aggressive offenders, but insisted his words were not in support of those involved in the bashing.

He asked Queenslanders not to lose faith in their police service after footage emerged of a handcuffed man being bashed by officers.

The incident is now subject to a joint investigation by Queensland police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

One officer has been removed from operational duties.

"Nothing I said on Wednesday in any way suggested I was supporting the officer who is the subject of the investigation," Mr Atkinson said.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Police lie to cover for each other, claims former homeless man who was bashed in Queen St Mall

A FORMER homeless man bashed by police in Brisbane's Queen St Mall has urged the young victim of an alleged Gold Coast police assault to fight for justice.

But Bruce Rowe, who launched Queensland's first successful private criminal prosecution against police, warns Noa Begic faces "a long, hard road ahead of him". Mr Rowe, 71, said his own lengthy - and ongoing - battle for justice was frustrated by a police "code of silence" which he believed still existed. "They will lie to protect each other," he said.

Mr Rowe, an engineering graduate who became homeless after the death of his wife of 41 years, was held down and assaulted by police in the mall in 2006 and charged with obstruction and disobeying a direction.

He launched a rare private prosecution after police cleared the five officers involved and the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.

Last February, the officer who kneed Mr Rowe, Constable Benjamin Arndt, was found guilty of common assault and ordered to pay $3250 in a fine and legal costs. He has launched a District Court appeal. The CMC is believed to be close to completing an investigation into the officers involved.

Mr Rowe said he had seen the video footage of the Begic incident, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, and it was "appalling". He said it had brought up chilling memories of his own ordeal.

"You can't see him (on the video) fighting back or doing anything yet they (the police) are getting stuck into him which is very similar to what happened in my case," he said. "I never resisted and never touched them but they got stuck into me, too.

"Even if he (Mr Begic) has sworn at them or whatever, I can't see any justification whatsoever for punching him while he is laying there in handcuffs. It's appalling."

Mr Rowe said it was fortunate there was video footage of the incident, since he won justice for his assault only by requisitioning CCTV footage from the Brisbane City Council.

"(Mr Begic) should absolutely go for it and fight for justice but I would say he has a long, hard road ahead of him," he said. "My case has been going for nearly six years and I'm still fighting."

Mr Rowe said he was "absolutely disgusted" by Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson's assertion that police could be justified in punching people in the head.

Top cop on revenge vendetta against those who reveal police misbehaviour

His priorities are arse about. What about working to see that there is no thuggery to record? He should be fired. He is unfit to lead an ethical police force. Fish rot from the head down and Atkinson has just revealed by his behaviour that the the Qld. police force is again no exception. Is he another Terry Lewis?

A CULTURE of fear among police whistleblowers has emerged as Queensland's top cop vowed to hunt the source of an alleged police bashing video.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has pledged a "full, thorough and exhaustive" investigation into the alleged bashing of 21-year-old chef Noa Begic in the bowels of the Surfers Paradise police station. Mr Begic had his hands cuffed behind his back when officers were seen kneeing and punching him.

But Mr Atkinson has also flagged an inquiry into how The Courier-Mail obtained the CCTV footage of Mr Begic's bashing before breaking the story on Wednesday.

The pursuit follows news that Constable Bree Sonter was asked to explain her role in blowing the whistle on former colleague Benjamin Price, who was jailed after he assaulted prisoners.

The Courier-Mail understands that Constable Sonter, labelled "heroic" by the Crime and Misconduct Commission when she was the only officer to report Price, was under investigation for why she did not allegedly alert authorities earlier about his behaviour.

The Price court case and subsequent stories in The Courier-Mail raised questions about how slowly police reacted to the initial report.

Operation Tesco, a 2010 CMC inquiry into Gold Coast police misconduct, heard how a Burleigh Heads CIB whistleblower was given a can of dog food as a "secret Santa" gift by a colleague. The present, handed out at an office Christmas party, was given after he was suspected of "dogging" a workmate over disciplinary matters.

Last November, an inspector from the Ethical Standards Command, the internal affairs division which investigates allegations of police misconduct, was stood down after he left a can of dog food on a colleague's desk allegedly to reprimand him for being a "snitch".

Mr Atkinson said he did not believe the release of the Surfers Paradise video was a "whistleblower act" as an internal investigation into the incident was already under way. "There's nothing there that is exposing or uncovering anything," he said. [You could have fooled me!]

But leading criminal lawyer Bill Potts said police would not have taken the case as seriously without the media exposure. "But for brave whistleblowers and journalists revealing these sorts of things, this type of behaviour would not be exposed in the significant way it has been," Mr Potts said.

Queensland Civil Liberties Council vice-president Terry O'Gorman said Mr Atkinson should be more concerned with the behaviour in the video than in how it went public.

"Rather than conducting a witchhunt into how a video embarrassing the QPS was leaked to the media, Mr Atkinson should be conducting his own inquiry into Gold Coast Police Command, who apparently did nothing about the video or the police involved in the alleged bashing until the video was publicly released," Mr Potts said.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Driver claims Qld. police bullying people to plead guilty over speeding fines

ONE of the 3000 motorists caught speeding in the Clem7 Tunnel last May has claimed police are "bullying" people into pleading guilty to avoid embarrassment over the controversial fines.

Peter Arnouts is among dozens challenging the fines issued in May after police started enforcing changes to variable speed signs in the tollway.

Although he wanted to plead not guilty because he believed he was in the right, Mr Arnouts said he was "cornered in a room" by two police before the hearing and told he would lose.

"They said they'd reduce the speed on my ticket from 71 to 69 to bring the cost of the fine down from $466 to $333 but only if I pleaded guilty," Mr Arnouts said.

"Then they told me if I went ahead with a not guilty plea, they'd have to bring an expert up from down south which meant I could be liable for costs of $6000. "I felt intimidated, like I was being bullied into it."

Mr Arnouts did as he was told and pleaded guilty but said he had decided to speak out so others would be prepared. "They should know what to expect," he said.

William Burnett also appeared in court this month to fight a Clem7 speeding fine and was also told police would lower the speed to reduce the fine - if he pleaded guilty.

But Mr Burnett said he felt the police prosecutor explained the situation clearly and the decision was left up to him. "She said 'no-one has got off yet and going by the letter of the law they're very unlikely to'," he said.

"She spent a bit of time and told me if I pleaded guilty the magistrate would ask if there was anything I wanted to say, which would give me a chance to say my piece."

The claims follow the release of figures showing police tore up more speeding fines issued in the Clem7 Tunnel due to technical faults, than at any other location.

Police officers sometimes justified in punching people in the head, says Qld. Commissioner Bob Atkinson

QUEENSLAND'S top cop has declared officers can be justified in punching people in the head. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson made the comments yesterday after The Courier-Mail revealed CCTV footage from the Surfers Paradise watchhouse showing officers allegedly assaulting 21-year-old chef and father Noa Begic.

Mr Atkinson was asked if there could be any justification for police punching someone in the head, as the footage shows. He said: "Of course ... but it would depend on the circumstances as to whether that use of force - punching someone in the head - was necessary and justifiable."

His comments were backed by Police Minister Neil Roberts. "Yes, if the action was necessary and justifiable, for example as a form of self-defence or in assisting someone else given the circumstances of the situation the officer was confronted at the time," Mr Roberts said.

But Mr Atkinson admitted some officers could become "desensitised" to violence and sometimes "their judgment can be frayed". One officer was stood aside yesterday as the Crime and Misconduct Commission stepped in to oversee the police investigation into the incident.

The Commissioner pledged a "full, complete and exhaustive investigation" but also defended his officers, saying there were many more assaults on police than there were by police on the public. [Big deal!] Mr Atkinson said an average of 600 to 700 complaints of excessive force were made against police each year, but last year 2031 officers were assaulted.

However, he said he did not believe police violence was systemic and complaints about excessive force were declining. "Things haven't gone backwards and I don't believe we're at a crisis point," he said. He would not be drawn on his reaction to the video footage, saying only that it warranted thorough investigation.

Mr Atkinson said the main officer at the centre of the Begic brutality claim had been assigned to desk duties and the CMC had joined the police Ethical Standards Command in a joint investigation.

He also said there would be a separate investigation into how The Courier-Mail obtained the video footage. Mr Atkinson said the leaking of the video was "not a whistleblower act". "There's nothing there that's exposing or uncovering anything," he said.

Australian Civil Liberties Council president Terry O'Gorman said the Begic footage was "appalling" and police brutality was continuing despite the presence of CCTV cameras. "If police are doing this when the CCTV cameras are on, what are they doing away from the cameras?" he said.

Mr O'Gorman said a number of cases of police brutality had not been satisfactorily dealt with, including the bashing of three tourists at Airlie Beach police station. He said while one officer had been jailed over the assaults, others who were present and were "clearly liable" had not been punished.

Earlier, the victim of the brutal police bashing captured on CCTV at a Gold Coast police station made the chilling claims the worst of the violence took place out of the camera's view and officers taunted him that his injuries were "merely a flesh wound".

Noa Begic, 21, was arrested in the early hours of January 29 for being a public nuisance during a night out with friends. Minutes later he was taken to the basement of Surfers Paradise police station, where surveillance footage obtained by The Courier Mail shows him being beaten bloody. A senior officer even uses a bucket to wash away a pool of Mr Begic's blood.

The chef and father-of-one has only now watched the footage for the first time. "It's pretty brutal," he said. "Unfortunately there wasn't a camera around the corner because it would have shown what happened before we came in to view. "I was already bleeding from punches when they pulled me out of the squad car.

"The part just before this video starts is where I get a few really good blows to the head so I was already quite dizzy by this stage. "By the end I was pretty relieved just to make it to the wagon to get out of their grasp."

Even after he was locked in the back of a police wagon it still wasn't over. An officer returned to deliver a few more punches and the door opens again a short time later. "He leaned in and called me racist names and said 'it was only a flesh wound'," said Mr Begic.

"By the end you can actually see a pool of blood from my nose and mouth if you look close enough. "And now you can see him washing away my blood. "At least they're covering their tracks well."


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another AFP stuff-up

They need a root-and-branch cleanout. This comes after the notorious Mohammed Haneef case, the Julian Moti case and the Fred Martens case, to name just some others

They are totally up themselves

Palm Beach playboy and cigarette importer Mark Coulton has had drug conspiracy charges dropped after the case against him collapsed. This is good news for his brother in law barrister Don Grieve, QC, and Grieve's wife, Dixie Coulton, who each put up $500,000 as caveats against their paddington home. Ms Coulton is a former deputy lord mayor of Sydney.

It comes as a the Sydney magistrate overseeing the case criticised the Australian Federal Police for "jumping the gun" against five men.

They had been accused with conspiring to import drugs from Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Magistrate Graeme Curran yesterday agreed to a request from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw the charges against the men. Magistrate Curran said that police had charged the men before their investigations revealed the type of drug the men had allegedly conspired to import. "It could have been talcum powder for all anyone knows," Mr Curran said.

Mr Curran said the police "may have had quite reasonable suspicions.. but before laying charges you have to know the essential elements". When the police inspected the shipping container in Tanzania, all they found was a batch of sodden cigarettes.

Mr Coultan, 51, was the alleged leader of the group. He was arrested at Sydney International Airport last year after he stepped off a flight from Dubai.

The other co-accused include 34 year old Elias Helou from Lakemba, 50 year old George Samrani from Chipping Norton, 34 year old Robert Ibrahim from Guildford, and 34 year old Walid Chami from South Perth. Three of the men have applied for the AFP to pay their legal costs which could be worth $90,000.

Magistrate Curran said the police statement of facts showed there was "something fishy going on" between the five men between June and October last year.

He said the police evidence was not strong enough to show exactly what the men were up to.

Magistrate Curran said the conversations on the phone intercepts appeared to be coded and their activities were clearly suspect. "This smells to high heaven," he said.

Telephone intercepts recorded Mr Coulton telling another suspect, "we gotta bring this drug". They also recorded Mr Helou telling Mr Coulton "you are the one doing all the drugs, you are the one that's selling all the drugs and cocaine .. you're the one that's doing that .. there's no fucking cigarettes".

Watchdog must probe 'culture of police violence' in wake of video of handcuffed man being bashed

A 'WIDE culture of police violence' needs to be investigated by the new head of the Crime and Misconduct Commission 'as his major priority'.

Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman made the call this morning after viewing shocking video, obtained by The Courier-Mail, of an alleged prisoner bashing in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station last month.

Mr O'Gorman said police brutality was continuing despite the presence of CCTV cameras. "If police are doing this when the CCTV cameras are on, what are they doing away from the cameras?" he said.

"They are committing what the cameras show - excessive violence, and in some cases grossly excessive violence, against people who are already restrained."

Mr O'Gorman said a number of cases of police brutality had not been satisfactorily dealt with, including the bashing of three tourists at Airlie Beach police station. He said while one officer had been jailed over the assaults, others who were present and were 'clearly liable' had not been punished.

And the Queensland Police Service, while releasing video of the incidents, had refused to release the audio showing the full brutality involved.

Mr O'Gorman said police had also escaped criminal prosecution for the bashing of homeless man Bruce Rowe in the Queen St Mall, and lawyers had to mount a civil prosecution on his behalf.

New CMC boss Ross Martin SC needed to urgently tackle police violence, Mr O'Gorman said. "In our view, the new head of the CMC has to deal with the issue of police violence both on the streets, and against people in custody, as his major priority," he said.

"The examples that we're seeing speak to a wide culture of police violence that even the Police Commissioner (Bob Atkinson) has acknowledged."

Video shows shock police bashing of young father

Most of the Gold Coast cops seem to be sheer animals. There has been great unrest about them previously

WHEN Noa Begic clocked off after another long night at work he never imagined he soon would be lying handcuffed in his own blood in the basement of a Gold Coast police station.

The 21-year-old father had just finished a long shift as a chef at a Surfers Paradise restaurant shortly before midnight on January 28 when he decided to head out with friends for a few drinks.

Less than three hours later, after "a few beers and a few shots", he left popular Irish pub Waxy's in high spirits and started singing a song from US hard rockers Rage Against the Machine, when he was approached by police officers on patrol.

"The song is called Take the Power Back," Mr Begic told The Courier-Mail. "I don't know why I was singing it, but it's not even one of their controversial songs and there was no swearing. "But these police officers came over and asked to look at my driver's licence. "Then they just cuffed me."

He said he was led to a police car and repeatedly punched on the short drive back to the Surfers Paradise police station, nestled between kebab shops and strip clubs on Orchid Avenue in the heart of the nightclub strip. When they arrived in the police station basement, Mr Begic, whose only previous encounter with the law was a drink-driving charge, knew he was in trouble.

"Even in the back of the car I got hit in the head about seven times and they were making racist comments about me and then when we ended up in that basement I knew there was more on the way," he said. "It was like those movies where you see stuff like that. "It was very intimidating so of course I was pretty worried and then they ripped in to me again."

Closed-circuit TV footage obtained by The Courier-Mail shows the officers slamming Mr Begic face-first to the ground.

He is then struck with a flurry of knees, elbows and fists before being dragged to his feet and ushered into the back of a nearby police wagon. A short time later, an officer opens the back of the wagon and delivers a series of further punches. A senior officer, present for most of the incident, then pours a bucket of water over the ground to wash away the victim's blood.

Mr Begic said the beating was brutal, the treatment grossly excessive. "It's not like I was fighting back or trying to run away," he said. "I was handcuffed and there were four of them. "I was in some serious pain and really only running on adrenalin to get me through it."

He spent the night in the Southport watchhouse and faced court on charges of public nuisance and obstructing police, to which he plead not guilty. He will face Southport Magistrates Court on April 4.

While he escaped serious physical injury, Mr Begic said he had been depressed and withdrawn since the attack.

But he was gaining courage from making a formal complaint against the police. "When I got let out of the watchhouse a couple of the officers even looked at me and went, 'whoa, did you want to make a complaint?' "And at the time I thought there was no point.

"But the more people I have spoken to about what happened to me, the more stories I have heard about it happening to other people. "It might make them think twice next time they try it with someone else."

Police yesterday said the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive use of force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29. The investigation is continuing.

Police told AAP the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29 and no further comment would be made. Comment has been sought from Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it would be inappropriate to comment because charges against Mr Begic were still before the courts. "However, the police union fully supports all police involved and we look forward to the chance to make public all facts of this matter in due course," he said in a statement to AAP.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O'Gorman said the incoming chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission should investigate the excessive force claim and a culture of impunity in the police service.

"The first thing we will be asking him to do is review throughout the state the procedures for dealing with complaints where people say they have been bashed by police," Mr O'Gorman told the ABC. "There is a culture of impunity amongst a significant number of police who know they can assault people in custody and get away with it."


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson caught speeding on Story Bridge, fined $133

POLICE Commissioner Bob Atkinson has been caught speeding on the Story Bridge – a blunder he has revealed two days after police and The Courier-Mail launched a road safety campaign.

Mr Atkinson was caught on February 3 and was believed to be travelling at 70km/h in a 60km/h zone. He will lose one demerit point and pay a fine of $133.

Mr Atkinson said he was embarrassed because of his position and because he had just been promoting the road safety message to media. "I feel as though I've let you down, I feel as though I've let my colleagues down (and) I feel as though I've let the community down," he told reporters in Brisbane.

He has blamed the offence on a lapse in concentration. He told reporters that he did not see the speed camera flash while he was driving with a colleague to police headquarters. "It was brought to my notice that there might be an issue last Friday," he said.

It's not the first time the police chief been nabbed for driving too fast. Mr Atkinson said he received a ticket for a similar speeding offence in 2009 while holidaying in NSW. He said he was also caught speeding in 1998 when he was an assistant commissioner in far north Queensland based at Cairns. In 2004, he rear-ended another vehicle while driving a police car and was deemed to have been following the car too closely.

Mr Atkinson said the latest infringement was the only speeding ticket he had received in Queensland in the 11 years that he has been police commissioner.

On Monday, Traffic Hot Spots: You Drive the Change was launched, a campaign encouraging motorists to report bad driving and dangerous roads via The Courier-Mail’s website.

Speeding is listed as one of the Fatal Four, which contribute to the state's road toll.

In a statement posted online, Mr Atkinon said said he accepted responsibility for this infringement and had paid the fine.

"I was aware that the section of roadway was a 60kph zone but was not consciously or deliberately exceeding the speed limit," he said. He blamed a "lapse of concentration". "The detection was from a fixed speed camera. I was aware of its existence in that area.

I sincerely regret this occurrence and apologise to my colleagues and the community. I also acknowledge the support of the media to myself and the QPS in our combined efforts to reduce the road toll.

"The most important issue for me is that those efforts and that work continue unabated. "Despite this breach I am and remain genuinely committed to reducing the road toll and also hope to stay involved in that area after I retire from the QPS."


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Payouts to falsely jailed up by $1m in NSW

THE NSW Police Force was forced to pay out more than $5 million to compensate people it had falsely imprisoned and assaulted last financial year. Figures provided by the office of the Police Minister, Mike Gallacher, in response to questions from the Greens, show this was a $1 million increase on the previous year.

Mr Gallacher said there were 10 matters concerned solely with compensation for false imprisonment, costing a total of $879,102.43. In 2009-10, there were six matters which cost both parties $410,171.92.

A Greens MP, David Shoebridge, who requested the budget estimates figures, said they reveal that in 2010-11 the NSW Police Force paid out more than $5 million for cases involving allegations of police assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, compared to about $4 million the previous year.

"The Police Integrity Commission continues to take a hands-off approach to allegations of police assault and refuses to investigate most complaints," Mr Shoebridge said. "This is far from ideal. "The growing cost and number of these cases are signs of systemic failure of police oversight, which should be of grave concern to the people of NSW and the Police Minister."

Mr Shoebridge said a "genuinely" independent oversight body was needed to investigate these matters.

Paddy Gibson, a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney, was arrested and detained for a few hours in 2007 after a protest during President George Bush's visit to Sydney. He said he was arrested at the end of the demonstration and was sitting in Hyde Park, which was not an excluded area, after the demonstration. He said an out-of-court settlement was reached for his false imprisonment.

A spokesman for the NSW Police said the number of complaints against police for using unreasonable force (including assaults) had dropped from 510 (2009-10) to 478 (2010-11).

A spokesman for Mr Gallacher said appropriate "checks and balances" were in place to investigate complaints against police officers.