Gold Coast police in watchhouse logbook cover-up
POLICE have been caught falsifying watchhouse logbooks only hours before a prisoner died, a court has been told. A coroner's inquest yesterday heard how police failed to carry out routine prisoner checks and then fudged the logbook to cover their tracks.
Roy Barnes, 47, suffered a massive brain haemorrhage while he was being held at Southport watchhouse in February 2008 and died in hospital a few hours later.
During an inquest at Southport yesterday Inspector David Cole from the Ethical Standards Command said police had failed to record hourly prisoner inspections for "a period of several hours" before a constable noticed the error and wrote in the station logbook that the inspections had taken place. A district inspector had been due to visit the facility that day.
The constable later confessed her actions and was disciplined along with two other watchhouse officers on duty that night. "She made some entries that made it appear as though it (inspections) had been completed," said Insp Cole. Officers interviewed during the ethical standards investigation complained that the station had been short-staffed that night and they kept an eye on the prisoners via grainy CCTV footage, rather than making the physical inspections mandatory under police operational procedures.
Prisoner inspections had returned to normal well before Barnes was found lying semi-conscious on the floor of his cell. He was taken to hospital but died on February 12 from a brain haemorrhage. Insp Cole said there was no suggestion Barnes had been assaulted by police during his time in the watchhouse.