Saturday, February 27, 2010

Police reel again as apparent joke misfires

AN apparent practical joke has backfired on police after a Supreme Court judge yesterday demanded answers over why a junior officer in a major criminal investigation declared in a statement that he was attracted to "little boys".

Justice Roslyn Atkinson voiced serious concerns and disapproval over the contents of the statement that slipped undetected past police, prosecutors, defence lawyers and the lower magistrates courts – before reaching her in Queensland's highest criminal trial jurisdiction.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson launched an internal investigation yesterday, referring the matter to the Ethical Standards Command. He said the service would formally apologise to the court.

During yesterday's brief hearing in Brisbane, an angry Justice Atkinson said the statement was totally inappropriate and wanted answers on what action would be taken.

Prosecutors told the court the matter had been referred to senior officers within the Queensland Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Courier-Mail yesterday sighted a copy of the constable's sworn, signed statement, the opening line of which reads: "I am a constable of police stationed at the Logan Central Police Station. My registered (police) number is (withheld) and I like little boys."

Details of the actual case, which involve serious criminal charges which carry maximum terms of life imprisonment, or the name of the officer involved, cannot yet be revealed.

The trial is listed to go before a jury in the very near future.

Several senior lawyers and police yesterday said it was likely the constable's statement was typed by a more senior investigator and that he did not read it thoroughly before signing it. It is understood the officer did not play a major role in the investigation.

A Department of Justice spokesman said the DPP had declined to comment on the matter.

The incident delivers yet another blow to the QPS's southeast region and follows Thursday's report in The Courier-Mail that Gold Coast police were being hauled before secret "star chamber" hearings as the Crime and Misconduct Commission stepped up its corruption probe into the Glitter Strip's nightclub and drug scene.

In these hearings, the commission uses its coercive powers to force answers from witnesses under threat of contempt charges and jail sentences.


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