Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cop accused of using excessive force loses court battle over forced station transfer

A Surfers Paradise police officer with 28 complaints against him who has been stood down over allegations of excessive force has lost a court battle over being forcibly transferred. Senior Constable Nathan Irwin has been the subject of 28 complaints and 68 allegations over the past nine years, many relating to the use of excessive force.

In March, Sen-Constable Irwin was told he was being “temporarily redeployed” to Coomera and was not to attend the Surfers Paradise Police Station unless under senior supervision. Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Hollands wrote to Sen-Constable Irwin again in April asking him if he would prefer to be transferred to Southport or Nerang.

Sen-Constable Irwin objected to being moved from Surfers Paradise and with backing from the Queensland Police Union, took the case to the Supreme Court.

Court documents show Assistant Commissioner Hollands wrote that since 2007 there had been an “adverse pattern of behaviour” involving Sen-Constable Irwin. He said there had been 28 complaints and 68 allegations since 2007, “most notable with respect to matters involving assaults/excessive force”.

“Irrespective of the possible causes, the preceding allegations are indications that your level of professionalism is below that expected of a Senior Constable of Police in the Queensland Police Service. “Removing you from your current workplace will enable you to work in an environment where the frequency of confrontation with members of the public is less likely.”

Barrister Peter Davis QC argued the court should rule the transfer was invalid because it would be for the purpose of disciplining him for misconduct.

This week Justice Philip McMurdo dismissed Sen-Constable Irwin’s application and found the purpose of the transfer was “one of risk management”.

“The factual preconditions for the exercise of disciplinary powers do not exist because there has not yet been a conclusion of misconduct,” Justice McMurdo said. “He (the Acting Commissioner) has not sought or indicated that he will seek any disciplinary sanction.”

Sen-Constable Irwin has been the arresting officer in a number of high-profile cases of alleged police brutality, including that of youth worker Ray Currier, who suffered brain damage after his arrest.

The QPU said the transfer was based on complaints that had not been proven.