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.