Sunday, August 29, 2010

Queensland Police reject decorated Australian Army captain

They probably thought a top military man would be too smart and experienced to put up with the routine slackness in the Qld. police. And that's probably an accurate judgment. So they looked for any excuse to reject him

A DECORATED Australian Army captain with a high-level security clearance who led troops in Afghanistan and East Timor has been refused a job with Queensland Police.

The army officer, who has asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his military work, said he was denied acceptance into the ranks of Queensland's police recruits because of a minor and unrecorded misdemeanour during a training exercise when he was an army cadet seven years ago.

The army captain said the misdemeanour of making a hand gesture at another cadet during a lunch following the exercise was erased when he graduated from Duntroon and did not hamper his career.

But when he did not put the incident down on his police application, added to being fined for riding an unregistered and uninsured dirt bike, the service knocked him back for admission into the recruitment system.

The disgusted officer has complained to the Queensland Ombudsman, saying while he no longer wants to be part of the Queensland Police after its handling of his application, he wants his name cleared so it doesn't disadvantage him applying to other forces across the country.

"I am currently a captain in the Australian Regular Army and have recently returned from operations in Afghanistan,'' he wrote in the letter to the ombudsman.

"I have been through a thorough and prolonged vetting process by the Defence Security Authority and subsequently granted a high-level security clearance (which I am unable to disclose) and have had, and continue to have, access to highly classified material at the national and strategic level. "None of this would have been possible if my integrity was questioned at any point in my career.

"I have led Australian soldiers on combat operations in Afghanistan and other operations in Timor Leste.

"I have been entrusted to lead these men and represent Australia on an international stage in a high-threat and extremely complex environment.

"I am genuinely offended that the Queensland Police Recruiting Integrity Unit has identified that they have concern with my integrity and deem me as unsuitable.

"As an officer of the Australian Defence Force I am insulted the QPS feel it appropriate to call my integrity into question based on a lazily conducted recruiting process.

"I feel very strongly about this matter, as any member of the Defence Force would, especially given the importance of integrity within the military.

"Therefore, my intention is to follow this matter through until my integrity is cleared.''


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Queensland Police boss to face public grilling by watchdog

CRIME and Misconduct Commission boss Martin Moynihan will interrogate Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson at historic public hearings next month. Mr Atkinson - under fire from the CMC over issues including the Palm Island death-in-custody case - is expected to be among the witnesses at the hearings into alleged serious misconduct by Gold Coast police.

The hearings, to be presided over by Mr Moynihan, are the last stage of the CMC's Operation Tesco probe into allegations of police wrongdoing on the Gold Coast. Tesco has investigated claims of police associating with criminals, taking drugs, accepting free drinks at nightclubs and misusing confidential information.

Dozens of Gold Coast police have appeared at secret CMC hearings where they were forced to testify under threat of jail for contempt. Three Gold Coast police officers have been stood down over the Tesco allegations and at least one is facing criminal charges.

The CMC stressed the public hearings were not aimed at unearthing new evidence of misconduct but would look at "big picture" issues stemming from the Tesco investigation. "The hearing won't gather further evidence of alleged police misconduct on the Gold Coast - its intention is to look into systemic issues identified by evidence already gathered," the CMC's Assistant Commissioner (Misconduct), Warren Strange, said.

Despite conflict between Mr Moynihan and Mr Atkinson over the Palm Island case, and the Police Commissioner accepting a shorter contract extension to sidestep CMC approval, a commission spokeswoman denied the state's top two crimefighters were at loggerheads. She said the CMC and Queensland Police Service were working co-operatively on reforms aimed at stamping out police misconduct and corruption.

Mr Strange said Operation Tesco was "a clear example of close collaboration between the CMC and the QPS". Eight police inspectors were seconded to the CMC to help with the Tesco probe.

Mr Strange said the CMC and QPS had consulted over "strong, decisive" reforms announced this week by Mr Atkinson ahead of the Operation Tesco report which is not expected until early next year.

Premier Anna Bligh yesterday defended allegations Mr Atkinson failed to move quickly on the Gold Coast allegations that were first raised almost two years ago. "The allegations surfaced 18 months ago," Ms Bligh said. "I don't think you can act on those allegations until you've investigated them or until you're satisfied that there's evidence that warrants action," Ms Bligh said.

She said Mr Atkinson had her "full support" and that his willingness to "stamp out" misconduct was a sign of the times. "Frankly, 30 years ago (misconduct) would have been allowed to thrive," she said. "This is a sign of a very rigorous and accountable modern police service."

They include a review of police recruiting standards which Mr Atkinson admitted had slipped, revised polices on police associating with criminals and receiving freebies, the appointment of more senior officers to supervise Gold Coast police and a beefed-up Ethical Standards Command.

About 20 witnesses, including Mr Atkinson and other senior police and independent experts, are expected to give evidence at the CMC hearings being held from September 20.

Mr Strange said the hearings would ``complement new policing strategies and assist the QPS in ongoing efforts to improve management of identified risks``. ``It's clear that major change needed to happen and we have supported the QPS move to implement necessary reform,'' he said. ``Our hearing will assist this process.``


Friday, August 27, 2010

They'll get the liar for something yet

Changed and inconsistent stories are well known as the mark of the liar. He changed his story over the death of the black guy too. Hopefully this will at least get him out of the police

The Queensland police officer acquitted over the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee may face new charges. The development came about over a $100,000 compensation payment Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley received after his residence was burned down in the Palm Island riots.

Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission has sent a brief of evidence on Sergeant Hurley to Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan SC. The corruption watchdog does not make recommendations on charges to the DPP, but is understood to have canvassed possible fraud charges against the veteran officer.

An investigation of the payout was launched by Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson in May 2008 after The Australian revealed Sergeant Hurley had valued the contents of his police residence at $34,419 with insurers. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed Sergeant Hurley had also sought, and received, a $102,955 compensation payment from the Queensland Police Service to cover his losses.

Sergeant Hurley had advised the police service of the claim he lodged with insurer CGU. It is not clear whether he received the insurance payout, but his policy covered damage caused by riots.

At the same time, the police union ran a public appeal to raise an undisclosed amount of money for officers who lost belongings in the riots. During the riots, the Palm Island police station, residence and watchhouse were burned.

The CMC and Mr Atkinson said last night they could not comment. Mr Hurley and his lawyer, Glen Cranny, could not be contacted. Police union president Ian Leavers said: "The police union will continue to give its full support to Chris Hurley."

The riots were sparked by the release of autopsy results that revealed Doomadgee died of "an intra-abdominal haemorrhage caused by a ruptured liver and portal vein" after being arrested by Sergeant Hurley. In 2007, Sergeant Hurley, who was not on the island at the time of the riot, was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault. He faces a civil claim from Doomadgee's family.

The compensation payment came only three months after Doomadgee's death, and shortly before the start of a coronial inquest that found Sergeant Hurley caused the fatal injuries.

Sergeant Hurley disputed the finding and took legal action that led to another coronial inquest.

In May, the third inquest into the death found Sergeant Hurley had fatally injured the heavily intoxicated Aborigine during a scuffle at the Palm Island lockup, but Acting Coroner Brian Hine said no finding could be made on whether this was accidental or deliberate. At the time of The Australian's revelations, Mr Atkinson said he thought the insurer would not have paid out Sergeant Hurley's claim because the losses were the result of a riot. Insurer CGU this week declared otherwise.

Later, a spokeswoman for Mr Atkinson said the commissioner might have been mistaken in his belief the insurance policy excluded damage caused in a riot. "Whilst we still believe this was the case with some insurance policies at the time, it has come to light that this may not be the case with all insurance policies," the spokeswoman said. "Commissioner Atkinson has asked for further inquiries to be undertaken into this, and other matters relating to compensation."

The compensation payment sparked outrage in the indigenous community, and has been criticised by lawyers and civil libertarians.

Sergeant Hurley gave the QPS a list of property believed to have been much broader than that held by CGU. The list was deleted from the documents released under Freedom of Information and no explanation has been given for the differing values.

Sergeant Hurley had no receipts for his property, and offered to sign a statutory declaration, but the QPS took him at his word.

The documents, released to The Australian after an FOI request a year ago, show that two weeks after the riots, on December 10, 2004, Sergeant Hurley sent his superiors a memo with a list of personal property believed to have been in the three-bedroom residence when it burnt down. "This list is as exhaustive as possible from memory alone," Sergeant Hurley wrote. The total of the items on the list came to $102,955, but the items were exempted from release under FOI and will remain secret.

Sergeant Hurley sent a similar memo to the district office the same day, with a smaller list of police property and some personal items, including a Parker pen he valued at about $100, a torch valued at $80, two coffee mugs and a 2004 hardcover diary.

"In relation to my personal property, as you area (sic) aware the OIC residence was also totally destroyed during the riot hence I have no proof of purchase for my personal items," Sergeant Hurley wrote. "I am prepared if necessary to complete a statutory declaration. "I respectfully request permission to replace these items and have the Queensland Police Service meet the cost," Sergeant Hurley said.

The claim went as high as a deputy commissioner and was paid in full on February 11, 2005, with the QPS expenditure voucher declaring the payment to Sergeant Hurley to be "loss of property compensation".


Just about anyone can become a cop in Queensland

QUEENSLAND Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson yesterday conceded recruitment standards for the police academy had been watered down. This had happened over recent years as the service competed with lucrative offers from the mining sector for rookies.

Announcing sweeping measures to tackle police misconduct, Mr Atkinson said the mining boom and higher levels of attrition had forced a lowering in the recruitment standards, which are now under a formal review, to be completed within the next month.

The reforms follow a 10-month Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation of Gold Coast police that has, so far, led to the suspension of three junior officers and a senior constable facing property and firearms charges. It is understood some of the officers were under suspicion for misconduct at the police academy.

The CMC will next month hold a public inquiry as part of the investigation, codenamed Operation Tesco, which probed allegations that officers were drinking for free at nightclubs and turning a blind eye to the flourishing drug trade. The investigation found no evidence of any widespread corruption or involvement by police in the drug trade, although there have been "pockets" of misconduct by some officers.

Mr Atkinson said the reforms were drafted in consultation with the CMC and would target the entire 10,000-strong service, with a boost in resources and supervision. "A particular focus has been placed on improving supervision, and creating clear policy around gratuities, including free drinks at licensed premises, inappropriate associations, use of police vehicles and access and use of confidential information,"

Mr Atkinson has been criticised by the CMC over his handling of two now discredited investigations into the 2004 death in custody of Palm Islander Mulrunji Doomadgee and falling supervision by senior officers that led to officers' misuse of tasers and misconduct with prisoners.

The reforms propose greater training for senior police in supervisory roles, a boost in the numbers of Ethical Standard Command police and a new policy on "inappropriate associations".


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Drunken cops OK, apparently

A Sunshine Coast officer sacked after being caught almost five times over the limit has got his job back, undermining Queensland police's tough new drink-driving policy and sparking outrage from road trauma victims.

Documents obtained from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal show Joshua Douglas Compton, 30, who was caught driving with a blood-alcohol reading of .235, was the first officer to lose his job after Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson toughened service guidelines last year.

But the tribunal has overturned the decision and ruled the constable, who also lost his driver's licence and was issued a $1400 fine in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court, be re-employed by Queensland Police Service on two years' probation, perform 150 hours of community service and undergo counselling and treatment.

Tribunal documents show Mr Compton argued that at the time of the drink-driving incident, which was in his own car while off-duty on July 19, 2009, his wife had left him taking his son with her, a close friend had died of a drug overdose, his cousin committed suicide and he was told a relative was the victim of systemic sexual abuse by another family member.

His "excellent" police record was also taken into account, although he was reprimanded after punching two other recruits while at the police academy, according to tribunal documents.

In his decision at the tribunal, J.B. Thomas said that a Commissioner's Circular distributed to officers in July last year did not promote a "one strike and you are out" directive but rather demotion. "I do not think that it followed that the appropriate penalty was dismissal," he said. "There is a giant leap from demotion to dismissal. "Demotion does not deprive the offender of his or her livelihood."

Mr Atkinson wouldn't comment yesterday but a spokesman said the police service was considering appealing against the tribunal decision.

Road Trauma Services Queensland spokeswoman Kelly Hornby said the decision condoned bad behaviour. "Police officers know they're there to set the example – it's not: Do as we say, not as we do," she said.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said drink-driving was a "very, very serious thing" but the error of judgment should not result in a sacking.

"It is acknowledged that Mr Compton has made a mistake and he has paid a heavy price in not being able to be promoted for two years and suffering a reduction in salary, as well as having to undertake community service, none of which a member of the public would have to undergo to keep their employment," he said.


Police Commissioner to announce changes to Gold Coast police

Too little too late?

A SHAKE-up of Gold Coast policing is expected to be announced today by Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson. Mr Atkinson travelled to the Coast today to meet senior officers and will hold a press conference this afternoon.

It is not known if the shake-up is linked to Operation Tesco, a major misconduct probe launched by the Crime and Misconduct Commission earlier this year after allegations some police officers had become too close to the Surfers Paradise nightclub scene. Six Gold Coast officers have been stood down this year over various allegations of misconduct.

As well, rank-and-file Coast police have complained they are desperately undermanned to cope with the region's rapidly-growing population and large tourist influx.

A police spokeswoman said Mr Atkinson would announce "a wide-reaching suite of changes to improving policing services on the Gold Coast". "The Commissioner will today meet officers in Gold Coast District and stakeholders to discuss the many changes," she said.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another bent cop on the Gold Coast

A rogue Gold Coast policeman became a 'neighbourhood bully' who stalked and assaulted his elderly neighbours, a court has been told. The now former Coolangatta officer, David Michael Whyte, pleaded not guilty in Southport District Court today to two counts of unlawful stalking and one charge of serious assault.

In his opening address, Crown prosecutor David Finch said Whyte became a 'neighbourhood bully' during a two-year campaign of intimidation and harassment against two neighbours.

Mr Finch said the two men, one of whom is now aged in his 80s, were bullied and abused and their families harassed at a Kirra unit block where they lived opposite Whyte.

Whyte allegedly taunted one neighbour about cancer and told him he wanted to see him 'in a box'. He also allegedly called his neighbours 'parasites', made hand gestures towards them and left his mower running loudly outside their home.

He allegedly arrested one neighbour and later shoved him into a wall.

Whyte is defending himself and has asked to cross-examine one of the Gold Coast's most senior police officers.


Crooked cop home free

Selling machine guns to all comers is apparently OK if you are a senior Queensland cop. But the average guy is in trouble if he just owns an air rifle without a permit

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed against a "manifestly inadequate" penalty given to a Queensland police inspector who pleaded guilty to importing illegal gun parts.

Water Police chief Alan Magarry was placed on a two-year, $4000 good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded when he appeared before Brisbane Magistrate Graham Lee last month.

The charges to which he pleaded guilty were three counts of importing prohibited goods. Each carries a maximum penalty of a $275,000 fine or 10 years' jail.

Customs charged Magarry after intercepting four parcels containing illegal machine gun conversion kits sent from the US. The packages – labelled "marine parts" – were addressed to a deceased person and sent to Magarry's home.

The house north of Brisbane from where Magarry operated a private armoury business was also raided by Customs and police, with a significant quantity of firearms and ammunition seized along with a computer.

After the raid on September 17 last year, Magarry immediately took sick leave from his post at the Queensland Police Service. He was suspended in November for allegedly refusing to take part in an interview with investigators from the Ethical Standards Command.

Yesterday, John Crook from Gun Control Australia, questioned what sort of message the court's light-handed penalty had sent, given the seriousness of the charges. "These sorts of sentences ridicule the whole nature of our gun laws because they give no respect for those people who go to the trouble to honour the laws," Mr Crook said. "This slap on the wrist is so light that the public would have every reason to ask the Government to step in and take much more serious action."

He said that Magarry's senior position in the Queensland Police Service had made the sentence "that much worse". "It is astounding that the court has (handed down) this puny sentence," Mr Crook said. "We're disgusted."

No date has yet been set for the appeal against the sentence to be heard in the Brisbane District Court.

Magarry remains suspended from the QPS pending the outcome of an internal investigation.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Police bosses ignored warning about rogue cop

As ever in Queensland, the rot starts at the top

ROGUE Whitsundays cop Benjamin Price assaulted his third victim despite having already been reported to senior officers by colleagues who witnessed an earlier attack.

Former officer in charge of Whitsunday police station Sergeant Russell Pike said that after Price assaulted tourist Renee Toms in the Airlie Beach watchhouse in January 2008, he and two junior officers filed a report of excessive force that amounted to serious misconduct against the then senior constable, and expected it to be investigated.

"In January 2008, I personally made recommendations that Price be withdrawn from active duty until the investigation was conducted," Mr Pike said. "The recommendations were ignored. The truth is the police service had full knowledge of Price's behaviour and failed to act on it."

Mr Pike and another officer from the Whitsunday police station quit the force in disgust at the height of an internal investigation two years ago into alleged brutality by Price.

Price, 33, a father-of-two, pleaded guilty in Bowen District Court on Monday to bashing three tourists while on duty in Airlie Beach. He is due to be sentenced in Townsville on October 8.

The assault on Toms, 23, was captured in graphic detail on security camera footage. Another video, from May 2008, shows three police looking on while Price punches and knees handcuffed Timothy Steele, 26, before jamming a fire hose into his mouth.

Queensland Police this week said that any officers who did not report the assaults might face disciplinary action. "Once the court process is finalised, consideration will be given in relation to discipline action against any current serving officers who were aware of Mr Price's actions and yet failed to report the misconduct," the QPS said.

But Mr Pike, 44, claimed the QPS was focusing unfairly on junior officers. "It is now all too easy to publicly threaten (officers) and spread innuendo," he said. "Entire reputations have been smeared and tarnished. A whole lot of police have been dragged through the coals, interrogated and investigated because of one rogue cop."

He said he did not want to play down the "brave act" of police whistleblower Constable Bree Sonter in coming forward after the Steele incident in May 2008.

He said police were assaulted in Airlie Beach but there was no culture of retaliation. "What more could we do? We reported it to our bosses, but we could hardly go over their heads."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taxpayers fund payouts to former cop's bashing victims

And all he gets is 12 months in jail. I predicted the payouts here yesterday

ROGUE ex-cop Benjamin Thomas Price has cost taxpayers more than $1 million in secret payouts to three bashed tourist victims in a case of police brutality branded by senior officers as "one of the worst ever seen".

Former Senior Constable Price, 33, of Airlie Beach police station, yesterday pleaded guilty to three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of common assault against three victims in 2007 and 2008.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail reveal three victims made civil damages claims for at least six-figure compensation payouts against the Queensland Police Service – because the ex-police officer is bankrupt.

His admission of guilt comes after female police whistleblower Constable Bree Sonter, yesterday hailed as a hero, broke ranks and filed a complaint against her former patrol partner two years ago.

Price was accused of punching and kneeing a handcuffed Timothy Steele before jamming a fire hose in his mouth, nearly drowning his victim on May 25, 2008. Shocking video footage from inside the Airlie Beach police station shows Price punching and kneeing a bleeding, handcuffed Timothy Steele.

In another incident, it was alleged petite barmaid Renee Toms, also handcuffed, was flung about by the hair by Price before being slammed into a desk and the floor inside the watchhouse.

His third victim, merchant banker Nicholas Le Fevre, of Sydney, claims he was king-hit and repeatedly punched in the head by Price after arguing with him. Yesterday he confirmed he was the latest to take a confidential out-of-court settlement.

Documents show Steele, a plasterer of NSW, filed a damages claim in Brisbane Supreme Court for $725,000 and is known to have signed off on a confidential agreement.

Barmaid Renee Toms, also of Sydney, yesterday confirmed her case was yet to be settled and was due to go to mediation with a compensation figure yet to be decided.

Price yesterday showed no emotion as he changed his plea to guilty and outside court refused to respond to questions about any formal apology to his victims.

But, in extraordinary claims on his Facebook page, the father-of-two protested his innocence in his latest entry. He said: "I want you to all understand that I have been forced into a corner by the QPS and the dogs that turned against me."

He revealed he cut a deal with the DPP to change his plea to guilty for a reduced three-year sentence to spend a maximum 12 months in prison. He brokered the deal in the hope he would be "out in time for his oldest son's 16th birthday next October".

"The case has gained much media attention and is now purely political. "I'm positive that I've made the best decision for my wife and kids and to me nothing else matters."

Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart, in response to Price's guilty plea yesterday, said it was "one of the most difficult cases we've had to deal with". "We apologise to the community for this breach of trust," he said. "Certainly the behaviour is that of the worst I've seen for one single officer."

Asked by The Courier-Mail why the officers who witnessed the brutality but remained silent had not been punished, he replied they "may have received managerial guidance". [What a mockery of justice!]

Deputy Commissioner Stewart praised female officer Bree Sonter for her "integrity and courage". The action of the whistleblower which led to the investigation and charges was "proof the system works". [What system? It was just one decent cop while other cops stood by and did nothing]

Price will be sentenced in Townsville District Court on October 8 and is likely to face a minimum 12 months' jail.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Police gorilla finally convicted

This should open the way for some very large damages awards against the Qld. police. And what about the other cops who stood by and just watched?

Rogue ex-cop Benjamin Thomas Price has pleaded guilty to bashing three tourists while on duty in the Whitsunday mecca of Airlie Beach. Price today faced Bowen District Court to plead guilty to three counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of common assault.

The father-of-two, now a tree-cutter, resigned from the police force and today admitted the three separate assaults after female police whistleblower Bree Sonter broke ranks and spoke out about the police brutality she had witnessed at the north Queensland police station.

Two of his violent attacks inside the Airlie police station two years ago were captured on security camera footage in graphic detail. Price told at least one of the victims: "This is my town'' as he meted out his own brand of rough justice.

Shocking footage showed the strongly-built ex-cop punching a bleeding and handcuffed Timothy Steele before jamming a fire hose into his mouth in May 25, 2008. Other police officers watched on and made no move to stop the assault.

In another incident captured on film, petite barmaid Renee Tomms was flung about by the hair and body slammed by the former senior constable as she was being interviewed at the police counter over a drunken dispute.

Investment banker Nicholas Le Fevre, who was on a sea kayaking trip, told how he was repeatedly punched in the face and left dazed and bleeding by Price after disputing his alleged offence of urinating in a public park late at night in 2007.

All three victims are from New South Wales.

Price, who was released on bail, showed no emotion as Judge John Durwood listed his case for sentencing in Townsville District Court on October 8.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Qld. cops kill another black -- big coverup underway

"Restraint asphyxia" means that someone was sitting on him so heavily that he couldn't breathe. And that was what happened according to the pathologist. So the police claim that they were sitting only on his limbs is an absurd lie

Sad as the death is, however, the coverup is even more alarming. It indicates a completely corrupt police culture that could easily victimize others

An Aboriginal man who was physically restrained and handcuffed after he sought treatment for mental illness suffered asphyxia, an autopsy has found.

The man was physically restrained by hospital security staff in Townsville and handcuffed by police.

But a separate police report details how detectives have so far failed to interview the six to eight security officers and orderlies who seized an agitated Lyji Vaggs, 27, and held him face-down before he suffered respiratory failure and irreversible brain damage.

"Restraint asphyxia" contributed to Vaggs's death at Townsville Hospital in April, but the pathologist who performed the post-mortem examination on his body says asphyxia may not in itself have killed him.

Despite the uncertainty, Queensland Health "had not yet provided any further information with respect to the actions of staff relating to the deceased's assessment, transport and the period of detention prior to police arrival" at the mental health unit of Townsville Hospital, the police report to the state coroner states.

Security footage of the confrontation involving Vaggs, hospital staff and security officers on April 13 either did not exist or could not be found, The Australian has been told.

The revelations will deepen outrage at his treatment at the hospital from Vaggs's family and the Aboriginal community in Townsville, and invoke comparisons with the botched handling by Queensland police of the 2004 death in custody of another indigenous man, Mulrunji Doomadgee, on nearby Palm Island.

A spokesman for the police service declined to comment last night, saying the Vaggs case was now before the coroner.

The autopsy report for the coroner, prepared by Cairns-based forensic pathologist Paul Botterill, found that Vaggs died of the combined effects of "restraint asphyxia", obesity, schizophrenia and an aberrant coronary condition.

Dr Botterill reported he had been told Vaggs had been restrained by six to eight hospital staff, who maintained pressure on his limbs but "apparently not directly on him". This happened after he went to the hospital seeking help, and turned on medical staff. "He was observed to be still resisting, trying to get up," Dr Botterill reported.

"Hospital staff allegedly requested the use of handcuffs and police applied these, with the decedent's wrists situated behind his back.

"Police say that they remained at the upper torso, holding on the handcuffed arms and each placing a knee on the decedent's arms. One of the security officers was then alleged to have restrained the decedent's legs by crossing them and folding them upwards.

"The decedent was said to have continued to struggle, with his speech becoming irrational." The autopsy report notes that Vaggs sang Happy Birthday and asserted he was a woman.

He was then injected in the buttocks with an a psychotic medication, olanzapine. He continued to struggle, and may have been given further injections, at which time he was observed to go "limp and lifeless". He died on April 15 after life support was turned off.

The chief investigating police officer, Inspector Roger Lowe, said in his report to the Coroner that police had interviewed no hospital staff apart from the doctor who administered the sedative, Mushtaq Mohiuddin, due to "privacy reasons". [Deaths are not investigated for "privacy reasons"????] Others on duty at the time, or involved in the incident, were "unavailable to be spoken to" by police investigators, Inspector Lowe said. [Next time I kill someone I guess that I should make myself "unavailable to be spoken to" as well]

Queensland Health acting district solicitor Shiloh Smith had advised the police that "statements for staff involved in the incident were to be provided through Queensland Health solicitors", the policeman said.

Vaggs's aunt and family spokeswoman Gracelyn Smallwood, an associate professor of nursing, said she was concerned the investigation to date had not been thorough.

"When I heard of Lyji's death, the first thing I did was pray to God that nothing was covered up because the last thing we need here is another Palm Island," she said.

"We didn't want key witnesses not interviewed, or security videos suddenly not being available -- and what do we get. It is just so disappointing for Aboriginal people seeking justice and answers that this is the result we get all the time.

In his report to the Coroner, Inspector Lowe wrote that Vaggs was a patient well known to the hospital who suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. He tried to be admitted to the hospital on April 13 as he was "hearing voices". Other sources told The Australian that the voices were telling him to "kill somebody", so he went to the hospital seeking admission and medical help.

Vaggs rang the Mental Health Community Assessment Team and they sent a car for him. On arrival at the hospital, he allegedly struck a medical student from the unit, and the duress alarm was sounded, with hospital security staff responding, and police asked to attend.

"Four constables arrived at the Mental Health Unit at 1531 hours and they observed the deceased face-down on the floor and being physically held down by his limbs by between six to eight hospital staff, including security personnel," Inspector Lowe wrote.

"The deceased was observed to be struggling and resisting hospital staff attempting to get up whilst staff held on to him. Police observed the deceased to be a very large man and had concerns for safety of all persons involved."

Vaggs' funeral service will be held at the Assembly of God Church, Ayr, at 10am on August 20.


It sounds like the hospital staff were handling the man correctly but when the police arrived they went in hard

Monday, August 2, 2010

Extraordinary: Cop does 210kmh in 60 zone

Why is he still in the police service?

He even looks prehistoric

A PROBATIONARY police constable who drove at 210 km/h in a 60km/h zone on Stafford Road has been fined $1,800 and disqualified from driving for eight months.

Steven David Sankey, 25, pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court in Brisbane today to dangerous driving on December 20, 2009.

The court heard Sankey was a first-year police officer operating from Stafford station when he and his partner received a call to respond to an incident a break-in at a JB Hi Fi store on Gympie Road around 1.55am.

The call was originally Code 3 - requiring officers to proceed in a normal manner - but after police received incorrect information that a security guard at the store was being assaulted by a person who had attempted to break in they upgraded the job to Code 2.

Code 2 allows lights and siren and permits officers to break the speed limit but does not allow them to drive in a dangerous manner.

Prosecutor Dennis Kinsella said Sankey reached speeds of up to 210 km/h on 60km/h Stafford Road through built up areas with numerous side streets.

The court was told his supervising officer Senior Constable Parker was forced to brace herself and repeatedly urged him to "slow up."

Defence lawyer Ralph Devlin, SC, said his client had been stood aside since the incident and had been performing non-operational duties.