Thursday, March 4, 2010

Must not call a Queensland cop "useless"

I'll say it now: Queensland cops are useless MOST of the time -- in my experience -- uselessness that extends to the level of negligence, in fact. And I would be delighted to defend that claim in court

A NEW Zealand tourist who called a Brisbane policeman "useless" for failing to give him directions has spent a night in jail. Engineer Paul O'Reilly, 24, told The Courier-Mail he was desperate to find his way to his brother's Sunshine Coast home after becoming separated from his sibling at last Saturday's Future Music Festival, at Doomben Racecourse.

O'Reilly, who had no money or a mobile phone, said he approached a police sergeant for help and was told to "go north." O'Reilly, unhappy with the officer's assistance, or lack thereof, called him one of the most "useless police in the world."

O'Reilly attempted to plead guilty in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court on Monday to one count of being a public nuisance. Police prosecutors told the court O'Reilly's offence was committed when he told the arresting officer: "You're the most useless police in the world. I need to get home, I come from New Zealand."

The case was adjourned after magistrate John Costello told O'Reilly he thought his behaviour did not meet the standard required to prove the charge and should get legal advice. Mr Costello appeared to be still of a similar mind today when O'Reilly returned to court and his lawyer, Kate McArthur, asked the charge be struck out entirely.

Prosecutor Karen Friedrichs said the matter had been referred to her superiors for consideration, but she was under instructions to persist with prosecuting the matter regardless. She said it was alleged O'Reilly was persistent and abusive, although he never uttered any expletives, and as such an offence had actually been committed.

Ms McArthur said her client was returning to New Zealand this weekend and wanted to resolve the issue before then.

O'Reilly only entered a plea of guilty after Mr Costello indicated that in light of the facts he had no intention of doing anything other than admonish him and impose no other penalty.

Outside court, O'Reilly said the experience had ruined a much anticipated holiday and lowered his opinion of "Australian" police. "In New Zealand we are taught to trust and respect police and seek them out for help when we are in trouble," he said.

"That is why I approached the policeman and asked for his help. I won't ever do that again -- if I am in Australia."

O'Reilly, who comes from the small New Zealand town of Otorohanga, Waikato, said he expected police, like they were in his home town, would afford the same level of respect to members of the public as they themselves rightly expected of the public.

He said while he had found regular Queenslanders to be warm, delightful people, he could not say the same for the state's law enforcers.


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