Monday, February 3, 2014
THE freckled face of 13-year-old Jordan Rice made headlines around the world when he died with his mother in a flash flood that hit Toowoomba three years ago.
Blond-haired Jordan's final selfless act, urging a rescuer to save his little brother Blake before him, touched hearts everywhere, and moved Prince William to fly to Queensland to console his family.
But this is a story of what happens when the cameras go away and a family is left to pick up the pieces. I
It is also a story about the grim undercurrent of suspicion remaining between the survivors and authorities they feel compounded their troubles, in the wake of intense media attention.
It begins with the triple-0 call made by Donna Rice, 43, at 1.50pm on January 10, 2011, as she sat in her stalled Mercedes at a red light in a main street of Toowoomba with floodwaters swirling around her wheels. Jordan and Blake, 11, were in the back seat.
A coronial inquest found the man who answered Donna's call, Senior Constable Jason Wheeler "did not treat her call with the seriousness it warranted and did not treat her with respect". That's putting it mildly.
Wheeler chastised Donna for driving into floodwaters, when in fact the coroner found she had cautiously stopped in shallow water while other cars forged ahead.
But the water rose unusually fast and within minutes engulfed the car, forcing Donna and her boys onto the roof.
When Donna asked Wheeler to call a tow truck, he retorted: "You ring the tow truck company yourself."
He assigned Donna's call a low priority, and no help was dispatched.
Seven minutes later Jordan rang triple-0: "We're nearly drowning, hurry up please."
By then, two passing strangers Warren McErlean and Chris Skehan were risking their lives. Warren, 41, was knocked over twice in the swift-running water.
When Chris reached the car, Warren recalls Jordan and his mother urged him to take Blake.
"After Jordan told the rescuer to take me first, the guy said, 'C'mon little man, it will be OK'," Blake testified.
Chris passed the boy to Warren, who carried him to safety. But by the time he made it back to Donna and Jordan, the water had risen so fast the car was washed away. Chris managed to grab hold of a power pole but Donna and Jordan drowned.
It was a horrendous scene, watched by a screaming Blake.
But what happened next only compounded the grief.
Donna's partner and the father of her four boys, John Tyson, 49, still burns about police allegations that Jordan urged his mother to drive through the floodwaters, a claim later rejected by the coroner.
Police also claimed Donna displayed no urgency when talking to triple-0, and that emergency calls that day were handled "brilliantly".
John alleged in the Queensland's Floods Commission that 17 days after his wife and son died, he was heavied by a police inspector, who told him not to speak to the media about the triple-0 calls.
The officer did not return our calls but at the commission denied threatening John, and tendered the transcript of a recording he made of their conversation on a wristwatch recorder.
The partial transcript and audio, stored in the Queensland State Archives, do not show any threats made.
John says the transcript is incomplete and the officer's secret recording indicates an adversarial approach.
In any case, after the tragedy, John was beset by problems and felt abandoned by his hometown. He lost his plastering business, and took the $145,000 insurance money to the Gold Coast to start afresh with Blake, now 13.
He works as a labourer but struggles to pay the mortgage on his new house, and may have to return to Toowoomba.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Rough justice for 'whistleblower' cop in Surfers Paradise police station bashing
A POLICE sergeant accused of leaking video footage of fellow officers bashing a prisoner has been charged with misconduct - while the alleged perpetrators are yet to face action 20 months on.
Chef Noa Begic was allegedly bashed by a group of officers in the basement of Surfers Paradise police station in January 2012.
Video footage obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail captured the shocking attack in full, but while two officers have been stood down over the incident awaiting an internal affairs investigation, the alleged whistleblower has been charged with police misconduct and will face a disciplinary hearing headed by Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.
After an investigation by ethical standards, police will allege Sergeant Rick Flori "inappropriately obtained" official and confidential surveillance footage from the CCTV room of the Surfers Paradise police station and supplied it to the newspaper.
Sgt Flori's house was raided by police a few weeks later and he was transferred from the Surfers Paradise station.
He has now been charged with improper conduct and will face a hearing at a date to be fixed when he could face action including demotion.
In stark contrast, the two officers stood down over their alleged involvement in the shocking attack are yet to face any serious disciplinary action.
They were pulled from the front line after the newspaper broke the story and stood down from duty several months later, but they have not been formally charged.
The Courier-Mail yesterday asked the office of Police Commissioner Ian Stewart for comment on why the investigation into their conduct had dragged on so long, but only received a brief statement in response.
The statement says disciplinary allegations were "being considered by the Deputy Commissioner".
Mr Begic was enjoying a few drinks after work when he was arrested by a group of officers in the heart of the Surfers Paradise nightclub strip in January 2012.
He was charged with public nuisance and obstructing police, but the charges were eventually dropped.
Mr Begic has now engaged lawyers and plans to sue the Queensland Police Service.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Qld. cyclist hit by car alleges "imaginary" police interview
The video starts off like any other typical workday ride.
A cyclist is riding along the road, glancing over his shoulder to check on other vehicles, when a white jeep flashes past.
Suddenly, the car's side mirror knocks him from his bike, sending him tumbling to the ground at high speed. As the camera comes to rest, you can hear the cyclist's screams of agony. His upper leg has been shattered.
This video is gaining traction on social media after being posted by the Brisbane cyclist who claims Queensland police fabricated his testimony on the official crash report, in the course of fining the driver of the car one demerit point for "following too closely".
It comes to light at a time when cycling advocacy groups are renewing a national campaign for a minimum passing distance law, following the death of cyclist Richard Pollett in similar circumstances.
Craig Cowled, 38, who lost 1.5 litres of blood while spending seven hours in surgery, remembers the events leading up to the incident clearly, including an early premonition of danger.
Brisbane cyclist Craig Cowled, whose leg was shattered when he was hit by a car.
Brisbane cyclist Craig Cowled, whose leg was shattered when he was hit by a car. Photo: Fairfax Media
"As I was approaching a set of lights ... a white car came very close to me," Mr Cowled said. "It unnerved me a little but sometimes you shrug off these close passes and move on."
Mr Cowled said he started off again, "really putting my head down", taking a legal position in the middle of the left lane and staying out of a turning lane while constantly doing "head checks" over his shoulder for following cars.
"It came as a real surprise to me when this [white] car moved into my field of vision and suddenly I was hit. The bike went out from underneath and I slammed down onto the road."
A detail from an X-ray following surgery to repair Mr Cowled's shattered femur.
A detail from an X-ray following surgery to repair Mr Cowled's shattered femur.
Although he was in tremendous pain at the time of the incident, he clearly recalls passers-by creating a safe space around him and the speedy arrival of an ambulance. The police arrived and took a statement from the driver of the vehicle that had hit him, but Mr Cowled says he was rushed to hospital without speaking to them.
"I had a compound fracture right through my femur - the thigh bone, the biggest bone in your body - it was fractured clean through," he says.
He praised the "amazing" skills of the medical staff at the Royal Brisbane Hospital who inserted a titanium rod through the length of the bone, and reattached his leg to his hip joint.
While he was in hospital, a police officer visited but he was in treatment. He was later told the officer had merely come to tell him the location of his bicycle, which had been damaged in the crash.
When he was released from hospital almost a week later, Mr Cowled called police to give a statement and show them his video footage of the incident.
In a letter he delivered on Friday to the office of the Queensland Commissioner of Police, Ian Stewart, Mr Cowled details what happened next.
After leaving several messages and getting no reply, he eventually made contact.
"The officer advised me that I was not required to make a statement as the matter had been finalised," he writes. "I was very surprised and asked several times, why not?"
Mr Cowled said he was told that the driver been charged with a traffic offence. The officer would not tell him what the charge was, but told him that he should be happy that police had found 100 per cent in his favour, which would help to facilitate his personal injury claim.
A few weeks later Mr Cowled received a copy of the police report via his solicitor.
He was amazed to find that a statement had been filled in on his behalf, in first person speech. Inaccuracies included an entry that he had been cycling for recreation - he was in fact en route to work. Much of the statement attributed to him contains the same information as the statement given by the motorist who hit him. It ends by saying: "I have been struck by a vehicle on my right. I have then hit the bitumen and was instantly in pain."
The driver’s statement in the report said he had seen the cyclist up ahead, and had noticed him when nearly overtaking him at the earlier intersection. The driver said he was "trying to go around [the cyclist] in the lane" and "his bike has clipped the car".
The report concludes that the driver of the vehicle "has seen a bicycle up ahead and attempted to overtake ... and not left enough space", thereby causing a collision. This was judged as requiring a fine of "follow too closely", with the recommendation that "no further action be taken".
"In all honesty, I feel I have been brushed aside on this issue," said Mr Cowled, a PhD candidate with three sons under the age of six. "It’s galling."
He has sought legal advice, and hopes that his letter to the Commissioner will spark an investigation into police handling of the matter.
Police told Fairfax Media on Monday afternoon the matter was the subject of an internal inquiry.
"The Queensland Police Service is currently making inquiries in relation to allegations that have been raised to the police handling of an investigation where a cyclist was injured on Kingsford Smith Drive," police said in a statement.
"Those allegations have been forwarded to the Ethical Standards Command and this matter is now the subject of an internal inquiry."
Mr Cowled has been told it may take a year for him to recover full mobility, and there is a chance he will need a hip replacement. Six weeks later, he is still taking strong medication to manage constant pain.
The incident has come at a time when cycling advocacy organisations are campaigning for states to adopt laws that enforce a minimum distance for cars passing bicycles.
Sean Sampson of the Amy Gillett Foundation, which is campaigning under the slogan "a metre matters", said: "This incident highlights the need for change to create a safer environment for bicycle riders, the type of behavioural and legislative change that can be delivered through the introduction of minimum passing distance laws."
After months of public hearings and requests for submissions, a government inquiry into cycling in Queensland was completed last week. It is due to deliver its findings on November 29.
The inquiry follows a court case over the death of Mr Pollett, a virtuoso violinist, who was run over by a truck while cycling on Brisbane's Moggill Road in September 2011. In May this year, a jury found the truck driver was not guilty of any offence under the available laws.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Police service is protecting him. It's only a very persistent victim that is giving hope of justice
A POLICE officer who assaulted an elderly homeless man in a mall seven years ago has failed to stop the Crime and Misconduct Commission trying to have him disciplined.
Bruce Rowe was assaulted in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall in 2006 when some police officers pinned him to the ground and Constable Benjamin Arndt kneed him.
Constable Arndt was found guilty of assaulting Mr Rowe and fined $1000, with no conviction recorded, after a private prosecution.
After the CMC referred a complaint from Mr Rowe to the Queensland Police Service, an assistant commissioner decided Constable Arndt needed only "managerial guidance'', and there was no disciplinary action.
The CMC has applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for that decision to be reviewed, on the ground that Constable Arndt should have been disciplined for misconduct.
Constable Arndt tried to strike out the CMC application, saying it lacked substance and the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to deal with it.
The tribunal heard when the CMC first investigated Mr Rowe's complaint, it found there had been an illegal assault and referred a report to the QPS for any disciplinary action.
In February, the QPS told the CMC that managerial guidance had been provided to Constable Arndt.
The officer was told no further action would be taken in relation to the complaint and no adverse reference would be put on his personal file, the tribunal heard.
Tribunal member Michelle Howard said the CMC Act allowed the tribunal to review specified decisions made about police officers if the CMC applied.
While Constable Arndt argued there had been no reviewable decision, Ms Howard found there had been a decision in relation to an allegation of misconduct regarding the unlawful assault.
On May 10, she found that it was a reviewable decision that was made within the appropriate time and dismissed Constable Arndt's application.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Gold Coast surf shop worker claims to be second man brutally bashed at Surfers Paradise police station
A GOLD Coast surf shop worker claims to be the second man brutally bashed while handcuffed in the bowels of Surfers Paradise police station.
Josh Gowdie, 21, is suing the Queensland Police Service for tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
He claims he was assaulted and thrown into a brick wall inside the Orchid Ave police station in December, 2011.
CCTV footage of the incident, obtained by Mr Gowdie's lawyers, was broadcast last night by Channel 9.
Mr Gowdie was allegedly bashed a month before chef Noah Begic claims to have been subjected to similar police brutality in the basement of the Surfers police station. He, too, is suing the police service for a six-figure sum.
"The police can't be allowed to get away with this sort of thing," Mr Gowdie told The Courier-Mail last night. "The two officers who did this to me are not fit to be in the police service."
Mr Gowdie said the incident happened in Surfers in the early hours of December 5, 2011, when he was "standing up for a female who got arrested".
He said police pushed, shoved and punched him in the street before hurling him against a brick wall in a passageway inside the police station. "I didn't do a single thing to deserve it," he said.
"I told them I'd had shoulder surgery and they (police) said they'd dislocate my shoulder again. "I suffered multiple injuries including cuts and bruising, grazes, claw marks and a chipped tooth and I still get flashbacks."
Mr Gowdie said he was speaking out now because he was frustrated at the slow pace of the police investigation.
A QPS spokeswoman said the investigation was ongoing.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Man bashed by Qld police to sue
A MAN allegedly bashed by police under the Surfers Paradise police station has launched legal action against the state of Queensland.
Noa Begic was arrested after a night out in Surfers Paradise in January last year and taken to the basement of the local police station, where CCTV footage appeared to show him being punched and thrown to the ground by officers.
The Courier-Mail posted exclusive footage of the incident on its website and all charges against Mr Begic were later dropped.
However, he has now taken legal action, engaging high-profile law firm Maurice Blackburn to sue the state of Queensland in a civil suit. He is believed to be seeking a six-figure settlement.
A close friend of Mr Begic said it was taking a long time for the mental scars to heal after the ordeal. "He was very anxious about police for a long while as you can imagine," said the friend. "He is trying to get on with his life and sees this as a chance to close the door on that chapter."
Two of the four officers allegedly involved in the incident remain suspended from duty while the Queensland Police Service's Ethical Standards Command runs its own investigation.
Mr Begic had been drinking with friends after finishing his shift at a Surfers Paradise restaurant when he was approached by police officers. He was arrested and taken to the basement of the nearby police station.
CCTV then appears to show a handcuffed Mr Begic being flung to the ground before being punched several times in the head by one of the officers as he is pushed into the back of a police wagon.
One of the officers is then shown pouring a bucket of water over what looks to be a puddle of blood on the basement floor.
Mr Begic was charged with being a public nuisance and obstructing police after he allegedly directed numerous loud and abusive comments towards officers patrolling the Surfers nightclub strip.
The charges against Mr Begic were thrown out last June. Mr Begic has also asked the Queensland Police Service to pay his legal costs from that court action.
The ethical standards investigation into the affair continues, while an investigation is also under way into an officer accused of leaking the CCTV footage to the newspaper.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Officer who failed to issue alert on sinking boat set to be demoted
A POLICE officer who failed to alert authorities that a boat was sinking in the Torres Strait before five people died is likely to be demoted, after a successful Crime and Misconduct Commission appeal.
A girl, four, and four other people drowned when the Malu Sara went down on the way from Saibai to Badu Island in October 2005.
Thursday Island Sergeant Warren Flegg was told the vessel was taking on water but did not tell rescue authorities that the boat was in distress until hours later.
After a disciplinary hearing an Assistant Commissioner found Sgt Flegg should be demoted to Senior Constable for two years, but suspended the order, subject to him completing training.
In February last year a Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal senior member dismissed the CMC's appeal against that decision, finding that the sanction was appropriate.
But the CMC brought a fresh appeal, on the basis that a reasonable tribunal would have found the sanction "unreasonable or plainly unjust". The Commission no longer asked for Sgt Flegg to be dismissed.
On February 20 QCAT appeal tribunal members Justice Alan Wilson and Dr Bridget Cullen said a suspended sentence did not reflect the seriousness of Sgt Flegg's misconduct and it was "surprising".
"His failure to pass on critical information as soon as practicable was a very serious omission, particularly when he was a trained search and rescue co-ordinator," Justice Wilson said. "The failure to discharge that duty persisted for some hours, compounding its seriousness."
Justice Wilson said in his view Sgt Flegg should be demoted to Senior Constable for two years from a date to be decided and be allowed to apply for a sergeant's position only after two years, under certain conditions.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Qld. man on obstructing police charge claims officers bashed him
Timothy William Barker shows his injuries.
A MOUNTAIN Creek man facing one charge of obstructing police says he was savagely bashed by officers during his arrest.
Lawyer Adrian Hawkes alleged that his client, Timothy William Barker, 28, was assaulted while being arrested on Christmas Day.
"My client has been seriously attacked by the two officers," Mr Hawkes told Maroochydore Magistrates Court.
Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said there were mechanisms in place to respond to such allegations.
"If your client has a complaint against the police, he should take it to the CMC," she said.
"He already has," Mr Hawkes responded.
Ms Callaghan adjourned the matter to February 11 to enable case-conferencing between both parties, a direction Mr Hawkes opposed.
The events leading to Mr Barker's arrest were not clarified in court yesterday.
Mr Hawkes said he took photos of the injuries when Mr Barker was released from Maroochydore watchhouse.
He said his client unsuccessfully asked police on Boxing Day to drop the obstruction charge.
Qld. cop kills another cop over drugs?
I don't know much about this but a man claims that in 1988 he saw Qld. Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Wilson murder a uniformed police officer then leave the scene of the murder (in Airlie Beach North Queensland) looking like a suicide.
Shortly afterwards Wilson and underworld associates allegedly stole 2 tons of confiscated cocaine from Airlie Beach police station. When asked about the missing drugs, the cops simply said, "We can't find it. It's been lost..."
The witness was subsequently savagely beaten in an apparent attempt to shut him up. He has tried various avenues to draw attention to his matters but has hit a brick wall throughout, not very surprisingly.
The claims are in an eBook available on Amazon here ... which see -- JR
Qld Police Commissioner Stewart
An interesting email received:
Commissioner Stewart is currently under investigation by the Anti-discrimination Commission for acts of reprisal against police officer, Senior Constable Lyn Jones for participating in a public interest disclosure.
The public interest disclosure concerned a forensic officer from the Fingerprint Bureau Brisbane stealing from a crime scene. The incident was reported to senior management at the Fingerprint Bureau, Inspector Brendan Keleher and Inspector Tony Carstensen, who then bullied staff not to report the incident as they had both applied for promotion and "didn't want anything interferring in their promotional prospects".
After disclosing the incident to Ethical Standard Command, S/C Jones was advised by Senior Sergeant Blair Webber at the Fingerprint Bureau that the senior officers were "drumming up" complaints against her to "get rid of her". Five (5) months later S/C Jones was managerially transferred from the fingerprint bureau under allegations of complaints made against her. One (1) month later she was suspended without pay in relation to false complaints submitted by Sergeant David Reece, Sergeant Waldo Kowalsky and S/Sgt Blair Webber of the fingerprint bureau.
The complaints were investigated by Inspector Ray Rohweder who is a known associate and mate of S/Sgt Webber. Rohweder was also under investigation, at that time, for threating and bullying staff. After being found guilty of these offences, Rohweder was managerially transferred from Ethical Standard Command, but made sure he took S/C Jones' disciplinary file with him. Rohweder then continued to "drum up" complaints against her.
Three (3) years later S/C Jones is still suspended without pay on false complaints. To date, her disciplinary file is over 1000 pages as Inspector Rohweder collects statements from "rent a crowd".
CMC advised S/C Jones in March 2012 that "from the documents ESC had provided it was quite obvious that the QPS was trying to get rid of her as she had been labelled a 'trouble maker' for being a whistleblower".
The public should hear not only about the bad cops, but what happens to the good cops who dob them in. Officer who particpate in a public interest disclosures and tell the truth get bastardised by management, receive death threats and labelled "dogs". If we keep our mouths shut we get dismissed from the service for not dobbing them in. In other words, we're dammed if we do and dammed if we don't.
But S/C Jones is not one for being bullied by the "boys club" and has submitted a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission for the QPS's acts of reprisal. I wish her luck, but she's more likely to "disappear" like S/Sgt Mike Isles before they'll let her win.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
CMC says police officer got off lightly after 'forgetting' to act on tip-off
Qld. Police negligence leads to death
THE CMC has accused the police service of failing to appropriately discipline an officer whose inaction may have contributed to the death of a missing man.
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal documents show that Barry Powell, 64, was still alive and would have been for at least another 24 hours when a local rang police to report sighting an abandoned vehicle at Wyandra in the state's southwest that belonged to Mr Powell on December 6, 2009.
His body was eventually discovered nearby in dense bushland five days later.
The temperature at the time the vehicle was abandoned was about 40C. He had been travelling with his dog, a black labrador, and at the time temperatures soared to more than 40C.
An internal police investigation found officer-in-charge of Augathella station, Sergeant Andrew Ernest Thomas, "failed to take appropriate action" after he was told of an abandoned vehicle.
"At about 8.30am on the 11th of December 2009 the body of Barry Frederick Powell was located in bushland approximately 650m northeast from his vehicle," Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said in a notice of formal finding dated November 20, 2012, lodged in QCAT.
"It is estimated Mr Powell was alive until the morning of December 8 2009."
Mr Barnett said Sgt Thomas failed to investigate or consider the likelihood that a person who abandoned the vehicle might need assistance and the consequences of them not receiving any, particularly after being "exposed to such environmental conditions".
Sgt Thomas received a two-year suspended sentence, so if any further acts of misconduct were committed, he would be demoted from sergeant to senior constable.
Sgt Thomas did not report the phone call to Charleville CIB until December 10 and a massive search involving SES and police on foot, horseback and motorcycles followed.
"Subsequent inquiries with the family of Mr Powell indicate that he was travelling from Western Australia to his residence in Hervey Bay following surgery," QCAT documents state.
"It is apparent from the evidence contained in the brief that Mr Powell was taking a considerable amount of medication for a number of pre-existing medical conditions."
In the hearing, Sgt Thomas said he "banged" his head on an airconditioner and forgot as other things "simply overtook" his mind.
He also argued the information he received related only "to a vehicle on the side of a road, not to a missing person" and he did not accept that a "sufficient nexus" existed between his failure to take appropriate action and Mr Powell's death.
"It logically follows that had you taken steps to have the report investigated, Mr Powell would have been located some time on 8th of December 2011," Mr Barnett stated in the disciplinary hearing.
However, due to the cause of death being undetermined and a ruling by the entomologist that the mPMI (minimum post-mortem interval) could not be provided because of "gross deficiencies in the collection of original evidence", Mr Barnett said he was unable to find clear "causal connection" between Sgt Thomas' inaction and Mr Powell's death.
The CMC argued to QCAT that the sanction did "not adequately reflect the gravity of the misconduct", which included a failure by Sgt Thomas to "protect the public, uphold ethical standards within units of public administration, and promote and maintain public confidence in the QPS".
Sgt Thomas was transferred from Augathella to Toowoomba in January 2010. QPS declined to comment while the matter was before QCAT.
The case is one of four appeals of QPS disciplinary decisions by the CMC before QCAT.
They include Constable Anthony Richard Francis, who was demoted after being found guilty of improper access to and disclosure of confidential police information, several conflicts of interest, failing to report misconduct by another officer and urinating on a police vehicle he was using as a "blue light taxi" after a boozy night out.
QCAT is due to make a decision on those matters next month.
The CMC won a landmark legal ruling last year when it was determined in Brisbane's Court of Appeal it had the authority to intervene if it considered police had not been properly punished by internal discipline.
The appeal court upheld the CMC's appeal which found QPS' punishment of an officer whose involvement in a high-speed car chase ended with the death of a bikie manifestly inadequate.
A date for the Sgt Thomas hearing is yet to be set but a compulsory conference is set for March 6.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Police coverup of bungled 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.
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.
* 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, September 5, 2012
Junior Qld. cop caught taking drugs in undercover sting
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
Dodgy Qld. cop caught out pocketing the loot in drug raid
DRUG criminals have enlisted the state's corruption watchdog to unmask a police officer they claim stole cash during a raid.
The Courier-Mail understands CCTV footage used by the alleged criminals shows the officer pocketing wads of $50 notes during a raid on their premises.
The revelation comes as incoming police commissioner Ian Stewart, whose appointment was announced yesterday, promised to get tough on rogue cops. He could walk into the job facing a fresh scandal more at home in the pre-Fitzgerald era.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission was contacted by a lawyer acting for the accused drug traffickers, who alleged they had footage of the police raid from a surveillance system hidden inside the alleged drug house.
The Courier-Mail understands footage obtained by the CMC allegedly shows the Brisbane-based detective putting wads of folded $50 notes in his pocket after executing a search warrant in raids in the state's southeast.
The highly regarded drug squad officer is allegedly captured on video stealing about $1500 in cash from the accused drug syndicate.
It is alleged the detective can then be seen in the footage calling another colleague into the room before they formally count out the remaining money as proceeds of crime.
The veteran of numerous top-level police operations is on leave from the Queensland Police Service. He is yet to be formally interviewed or charged.
As soon as the CMC was notified of the hidden video surveillance footage showing the alleged police corruption, it ordered covert surveillance on the officer including phone taps.
The secret CMC probe has spent several weeks investigating if the alleged corrupt behaviour was widespread or systemic.
Once senior police became aware of the officer's alleged action and the reported existence of the video footage, captured on one of two surveillance systems hidden in the raided building, they also reported the matter to the CMC. It is understood the officer found one of the systems but not the other before he allegedly pocketed the cash.
The CMC has executed search warrants on the detective's home and his police office in the Brisbane drug squad headquarters.
High-ranking police officers, aware of the CMC investigation, yesterday told The Courier-Mail the officer accused of stealing the drug money had a reputation as a "good operator" and "top-class policeman".
They said they were "shocked" and "deeply surprised" by the allegation of a "rogue" in the ranks. But they dismissed the possibility of any systemic problems within the drug squad.
Lawyers working on the case say there is "no more invasive act" than a police officer "kicking a door in, with a search warrant, and then stealing from the criminals". "You can't be a cop and be a crook at the same time," they said.
The Queensland Police Union is aware of the CMC investigation and is known to be supporting the officer and his family.
If found guilty, the officer faces a possible jail term of up to two years.
In a statement, the QPS said the "Ethical Standards Command is investigating an allegation of improper conduct involving property.
"The investigation will be overviewed by the CMC. "As it is an ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time."
Thursday, August 30, 2012
The suspicious shooting of a Queensland petty criminal
The police story seems to be a pack of lies. They say they were shooting to defend themselves as he pursued them. So why did the autopsy find he was shot in the back?
The man's father writes as below:
I am writing this letter to address the concerns and inconsistencies I have with regard to the investigation of the shooting death of our son Jason Paul Protheroe by a Qld Police Officer.
1) On Tuesday 17th April 2012 two officers met with me in the street and I took them inside and they were looking for Jason. We have had police coming to our home for at least 18 years and yet on this occasion all 3 of us (Myself, my wife & our son Stuart) felt a real urgency about this visit, we were all very troubled by their behaviour. This was mentioned to the investigating officers by both my wife and son whilst we were being interviewed that afternoon.
2) Why is it that two allegedly highly experienced detectives (as was stated) entered Crystal Sinn’s home with recording devices asking to conduct a search of her premises without a warrant, and did not turn them on. One would think police protocol would call for these searches to be recorded otherwise the search surely would be declared illegal if any evidence was found. I find it extremely convenient that no recording device was turned on until after our son was shot, this in itself raises alarm bells. Not to mention that a warning had been issued that there was at least 1 gun in the house. Why did these 2 highly experienced officers not use their recording devices when they were at a house with female & 2 children?
3) Why is it that the shooting officer asked Crystal Sinn to call 000 when he was on the phone to his boss with one hand and trying to perform CPR with the other? Crystal actually asked if the ambulance had been called. Yet as far as we are aware the other officer was on the footpath also on his mobile. One would reasonably think that 000 should have been the first person called if a life could have been saved.
4) Our son Stephen was already at the scene before my wife and I arrived, he had been told that Jason was alive by officers then Crystal Sinn was brought out in a police car with her children, she screamed at the officers to stop and she spoke with Stephen, she told him that Jason was dead. Stephen asked if he had a weapon, Crystal in her grief stricken state couldn’t speak but answered by beating her hand on her chest and nodding no. Stephen then asked the officer driving the vehicle if it was true that his brother was dead, the officer verified it to be true. This left our son to be the one who had to tell my wife & I and his brothers that Jason was dead.
5) We arrived at the scene of the shooting and were badly treated by the police officers on the scene, in fact they even threatened to Tazer and lock us up if we didn’t shut up and F---off. We were a family in grief that needed answers and instead we were treated like we were criminals.
6) Meanwhile the news camera’s had arrived on the scene and news was being broadcast regarding our son’s death. Ian Leavers from Qld Police Union stated several facts that were untrue including Jason being in possession of a fully loaded semi automatic pistol aiming and hunting 2 police officers down giving them no choice but to shoot or be shot. He also stated that Jason was shot twice once in the chest and once in the abdomen. For 3 days following this news broadcast we believed what Mr Leavers was correct in his alleged facts and yet when we attended the John Tong Centre we found out that our son had in fact been shot in the back and the back of the left shoulder. We have never believed our son had a weapon and the fact that the only eye witness on the scene had stated that our son did not have a weapon of any form, and we had never known Jason to have a weapons charge of any form against him or ever have a weapon. We were so upset by these allegations and then to learn once again that the gun our son allegedly had was a toy replica just shattered us again. No finger prints were found on the replica pistol at all which confirms our belief that our son had no weapon at all.
7) On the 6pm news they released our son’s name and photograph (Mug shot), this was prior to either of his 2 children being notified by the Qld Police. They did not visit Caleb’s house until around 8pm and Brianna’s house until around 10pm. The Qld Police should never have allowed Jason’s name to be released prior to his children being officially advised.
8) Witness statements were taken but yet it appears that no questions were asked. For example, I spoke with a witness in Ivor street who said that she gave a statement to the police that she had seen a police officer walk out of the gate and stand on the foot path and make a phone call and yet when I questioned her as to whether she saw the police officer walk out the gate she replied with well no I just assumed he had walked out the gate because the gate was open but I actually only saw him on the phone on the footpath. When I spoke to the ethical standards officers about this lady needing to change her statement they had advised me their superiors had said that they had already spoken with the woman and did not need to go and re-interview her.
9) Further witness statements also contradict the information given from the police, including the position of where Jason’s body initially was when he was shot. A witness stood on a 6ft high fence and could see straight into the area where Jason lay. His body was moved apparently to perform CPR but my understanding is that Jason was dead from the bullet that went through his heart. Was Jason alive when paramedics arrived on the scene?
10) The shooting officer claims that Jason and him were standing in what I would describe as a Mexican stand-off position, he said “they were standing face to face aiming guns at each other, we were both in a stationary position and he will never forget the rage in his eyes and he fired 3 times well it must have been 4 because 4 shell casings were found. We have been given the reason of tunnel vision as to why Jason was shot in the back and it doesn’t wash with me, I see no reason why my son was shot twice in the back, in fact if we are to believe this police officer’s version then why did these bullets not hit him in the front of his body. This officer is not offering this as a possible scenario he is saying this is factual as to how our son was shot. I have spoken to doctors and educated people and nobody can give me a concise or reasonable explanation as to how this could possibly happen. I want these officers suspended from duty while a thorough investigation is done. I want to know the truth no matter how ugly it may be I need to know the truth.
11) There were 4 shell casings found 3 of them together on one wall of the carport and one in the back corner of the carport the totally opposite side. I am yet to hear any witness state that they heard 4 shots even the shooter himself. The 4th bullet has never been found and I question whether there were 4 shots.
12) The toy replica pistol which is the alleged weapon involved had no fingerprints whatsoever and yet we have since the shooting discovered photos on facebook of the toy being held by 4 different people including Jason. We have handed these photos to the police as evidence. I still want to know why no fingerprints at all were found on this including the police officer who picked it up by the barrel and threw it. Also what doesn’t make sense is that the only DNA on the toy replica belonged to Jason and no other person, yet we have clearly proven at least 4 other people apart from Jason have handled this replica including the shooting officer.
13) I still have no idea where Jason’s clothes are that he was wearing on the day. I have asked police and the coroner and nobody seems to know where they are. We would like an answer to know where our son’s clothing is.
14) We also want to know why the media is not allowed to print any story from us telling the truth about where our son was shot. We have requested a public apology from Ian Leavers that he correct the allegations he made on the day of the shooting and we did not even receive the courtesy of a reply let alone a public apology correcting the information he gave which tainted the evidence right from word go.
15) We also want to know why we were told by the ethical standards that a Coronial hearing was scheduled to commence within 2 weeks and we would receive a letter from the Coroner’s Office about this. This was at least 4 weeks ago and when we questioned the Ethical Standards as to what was happening their reply was that the Coroner’s office must have changed their mind.
16) Crystal Sinn the only eye witness to the event was not originally given the opportunity to do a walkthrough of the shooting. It wasn’t until I pushed for it that it finally occurred recently. Crystal is yet to receive a copy of her statement from the Police from the 1st interview following the shooting, a copy of the DVD of the walk through or a copy of her children’s statements that were taken whilst in her care that she was not allowed to be present at.
17) Was the walk through of Crystal Sinn investigated and included in the evidence? Has the investigation been closed or is it still ongoing?
18) I was called into Police Headquarters to view some more evidence which included bits and pieces of all sorts of things including some text messages sent from Krystal Sinn’s phone threatening Jason, parts of the shooting officers walk through, parts of forensic evidence, the toy replica pistol and parts of the 000 phone call. I walked away from this meeting with the definite knowledge that they had made their mind up that she was a liar and couldn’t understand why she was lying. The belief I now have is that the Ethical Standards unit have formed a conclusion without a thorough investigation. I am not happy to sit on this, I am prepared to accept the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
19) Why is it that we have still heard nothing about the toxicology report? Have the results been received? We were told from the ethical standards that they were drawing to a close on their investigation and we would be entitled to a full brief of evidence and yet your office has stated that we will not receive this until the coronial inquest which could be 12 months away. A timely process which gives us no closure and no answers. The facts get forgotten, witnesses clarity becomes unclear and 2 qld police officers remain on full duty after possibly murdering our son.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Qld. cops deny 'setting up' honest detective
SENIOR police have denied trying to "set up" an officer on stalking charges as a payback after he blew the whistle on alleged misconduct.
Police launched two internal investigations into former Burleigh Heads detective David Whyte, conducted covert surveillance at his home and charged him with stalking and assaulting his neighbours. A jury took less than 30 minutes to acquit him of the charges in 2010.
Mr Whyte is now suing for compensation for psychological injuries he claims to have suffered as a result of workplace bullying and harassment. He left the police service after reporting allegations including the use of illegal search warrants at Burleigh Heads CIB.
Yesterday, in a hearing at Southport Magistrates Court, he grilled senior police about the stalking investigation.
Current Burleigh Heads CIB boss and former Ethical Standards Command officer Brian Swan, who conducted two internal investigations into Mr Whyte, denied they were triggered because the former officer had "blown the whistle" and launched a WorkCover claim.
Another former ESC officer, Inspector Stephen Dabinett, said he was directed by a superior to investigate a stalking complaint against Mr Whyte while on duty at the 2006 Schoolies Festival.
Insp Dabinett said a covert surveillance operation was launched on Mr Whyte's Kirra unit complex with the help of one of his neighbours, an alleged stalking victim. But Mr Whyte disturbed the operation and confronted Insp Dabinett on the property.
Insp Dabinett admitted he refused to identify himself and told Mr Whyte to "f--- off". But he said this was because Mr Whyte knew he and an ESC colleague were police officers.
Mr Whyte: "You were very rude and aggressive towards me."
Insp Dabinett: "No, I don't think I was."
Mr Whyte suggested the ESC officers were at his home for an "improper purpose ... to try and set me up".
"No," Insp Dabinett replied.
The hearing continues, with more senior police set to give evidence next week.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Former Qld. cops gives evidence on illegal warrants and bullying in police force
A PROSTITUTION taskforce was shut down after investigating a state government minister who was allegedly using Gold Coast call girls, a court has been told.
Veteran former Coast police officer Al Colefax made the claim yesterday at a hearing into allegations of bullying and harassment in the Queensland Police Service.
Former Burleigh Heads detective David Whyte is suing workers compensation body Q-Comp for psychological injuries he claims to have suffered as a result of "entrenched maladministration, workplace harassment and nepotism".
Mr Colefax, who served in the QPS for 26 years before being medically retired in 2007, backed Mr Whyte's allegations of unlawful search warrants being used at the Burleigh Heads CIB.
He told Southport Magistrates Court he did not report his concerns because of an experience in the 1990s when he notified superiors that a government minister's name had come up as a "regular client" of prostitutes.
Mr Colefax said no action was taken and the "very successful" anti-prostitution squad he headed was abruptly disbanded.
Two serving police officers also gave evidence in support of Mr Whyte's claim against Q-Comp. Former Burleigh Heads detectives John Laws and Kevin Tudor said they were forcibly transferred out of the branch office after clashing with superiors.
Senior-Constable Laws said false disciplinary charges were levelled against him and he was sent to a uniform job at Mudgeeraba after he raised allegations of bullying, favouritism and illegal search warrants.
Grilled by Q-Comp barrister John Dwyer about why he did not report his concerns, Sen-Constable Laws said he had "a career to protect" and there was "substantial risk" in speaking out.
"Put simply, you make a complaint with the QPS and you paint a target on your back," he told the court.
"The culture of the QPS is such that you would wind up ostracised and generally run out of the place."
The hearing heard that after Mr Whyte complained to the CMC in November 2006, Burleigh Heads detectives were called in by senior officers and asked what they knew.
Sen-Constable Laws said a senior officer rang him to tell him that Mr Whyte had "gone bad" and "lost the plot" and wanting to know where Whyte's service pistol was.
While service pistols were sometimes confiscated from officers who went on sick leave, Sen-Constable Laws said, he had also seen this done to "humiliate" them.
The hearing was told that the CMC had been unable to substantiate misconduct allegations raised by Mr Whyte but had identified procedural and management issues.
Why is Constable Anthony Francis still a police officer?
A POLICE officer, who epitomises the model of bad behaviour the Queensland Police Service says it wants to root out, has managed to keep his job.
One of the main culprits exposed in an investigation into officer misconduct on the Gold Coast continues to serve after an internal investigation substantiated most of the allegations against him.
The decision has prompted an appeal by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and comes as the Newman Government stalls reforms to the police disciplinary process to make way for another review on the eve of the appointment of a new Police Commissioner.
Constable Anthony Richard Francis was one of several officers identified during the 2009-2010 Operation Tesco and was found guilty of improper access to and disclosure of confidential police information, several conflicts of interest, failing to report misconduct by another officer and urinating on a police vehicle he was using as a "blue light taxi" after a boozy night out.
One conflict of interest involving Constable Francis came when he investigated a break and enter of his own house.
Constable Francis was also found guilty of victimisation by giving a "secret Santa" gift to a colleague a can of dog food and a dog bowl.
The term "dog" has been used in the QPS to describe someone who reports suspected misconduct by their colleagues.
An investigation found Constable Francis also colluded with another police officer who has since quit, during Tesco hearings and was the recipient of a text message from her inviting him for a "quiet snort".
But allegations they used cocaine were not substantiated.
The CMC said disciplinary action against Constable Francis, who has since been transferred to Logan uniform branch after being suspended and having his pay docked, was "inadequate and failed to achieve the objectives of the disciplinary process", according to documents lodged in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
It also objected to Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett's decision to reduce the sanction by taking into account "environmental factors of the Gold Coast District" because of Constable Francis' associations with people involved in the Gold Coast nightclub industry.
Mr Barnett, who is one of five applicants shortlisted to succeed Commissioner Bob Atkinson, said circumstances surrounding these matters "mitigate the need to impose the ultimate sanction".
Two police officers identified by the CMC during Operation Tesco have since resigned but Constable Francis was the only one to face disciplinary action.
Another three officers had matters addressed through "management action".
Offences committed by Constable Anthony Richard Francis, formerly of Burleigh Heads CIB
After Francis received a text message from another police officer (who has since quit) which read: "Hey babe, Just hopping into bed now, can't sleep, wish you were here, would love to have a chat a little giggle and a quiet snort (i probably shouldn't write that in a txt should i!) Hope ur enjoying yourself stay safe sweetie xxx", the couple were overheard discussing the Operation Tesco hearings and the need to get their stories straight. In particular, Francis was heard saying: "Just make sure you snort when you laugh from now on." Allegations of drug use were not substantiated.
2. Conflict of interest
As a recipient of free drinks from a Gold Coast nightclub entrepreneur, Francis then showed favouritism towards the man when his limousine was reported stolen. Despite inquiries revealing the vehicle was the subject of a civil dispute between the man and a third party who leased it, Francis entered a crime report stating the vehicle was "stolen" and returned it.
According to QPS document filed in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), Francis returned the vehicle to the nightclub owner "without complying with Service policy relating to disputed property". Francis was the arresting officer during a raid of a suspected offender as part of the investigation into a break and enter at his own home.
3. Victimisation of another officer
Gave an officer he believed had dobbed on him a can of dog food and dog bowl as a "secret Santa" gift.
4. Public nuisance
Urinated on the back of a police car he was using for his private use after a boozy night out.
5. Misuse of police resources
Took an unmarked police vehicle and collected a female friend and her mother from the airport.
6. Failed to report the suspected misconduct of another officer
7. Improper access to and disclosure of police information
Included checks on his girlfriend at the time, her stepfather and mother; other police officers, including one who had the foresight to have his personal information removed for fear of retribution from criminals he was investigating; a former girlfriend and her sister; and a woman he met at a nightclub after a one-night stand.