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.