Friday, August 27, 2010

They'll get the liar for something yet

Changed and inconsistent stories are well known as the mark of the liar. He changed his story over the death of the black guy too. Hopefully this will at least get him out of the police

The Queensland police officer acquitted over the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee may face new charges. The development came about over a $100,000 compensation payment Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley received after his residence was burned down in the Palm Island riots.

Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission has sent a brief of evidence on Sergeant Hurley to Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan SC. The corruption watchdog does not make recommendations on charges to the DPP, but is understood to have canvassed possible fraud charges against the veteran officer.

An investigation of the payout was launched by Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson in May 2008 after The Australian revealed Sergeant Hurley had valued the contents of his police residence at $34,419 with insurers. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed Sergeant Hurley had also sought, and received, a $102,955 compensation payment from the Queensland Police Service to cover his losses.

Sergeant Hurley had advised the police service of the claim he lodged with insurer CGU. It is not clear whether he received the insurance payout, but his policy covered damage caused by riots.

At the same time, the police union ran a public appeal to raise an undisclosed amount of money for officers who lost belongings in the riots. During the riots, the Palm Island police station, residence and watchhouse were burned.

The CMC and Mr Atkinson said last night they could not comment. Mr Hurley and his lawyer, Glen Cranny, could not be contacted. Police union president Ian Leavers said: "The police union will continue to give its full support to Chris Hurley."

The riots were sparked by the release of autopsy results that revealed Doomadgee died of "an intra-abdominal haemorrhage caused by a ruptured liver and portal vein" after being arrested by Sergeant Hurley. In 2007, Sergeant Hurley, who was not on the island at the time of the riot, was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault. He faces a civil claim from Doomadgee's family.

The compensation payment came only three months after Doomadgee's death, and shortly before the start of a coronial inquest that found Sergeant Hurley caused the fatal injuries.

Sergeant Hurley disputed the finding and took legal action that led to another coronial inquest.

In May, the third inquest into the death found Sergeant Hurley had fatally injured the heavily intoxicated Aborigine during a scuffle at the Palm Island lockup, but Acting Coroner Brian Hine said no finding could be made on whether this was accidental or deliberate. At the time of The Australian's revelations, Mr Atkinson said he thought the insurer would not have paid out Sergeant Hurley's claim because the losses were the result of a riot. Insurer CGU this week declared otherwise.

Later, a spokeswoman for Mr Atkinson said the commissioner might have been mistaken in his belief the insurance policy excluded damage caused in a riot. "Whilst we still believe this was the case with some insurance policies at the time, it has come to light that this may not be the case with all insurance policies," the spokeswoman said. "Commissioner Atkinson has asked for further inquiries to be undertaken into this, and other matters relating to compensation."

The compensation payment sparked outrage in the indigenous community, and has been criticised by lawyers and civil libertarians.

Sergeant Hurley gave the QPS a list of property believed to have been much broader than that held by CGU. The list was deleted from the documents released under Freedom of Information and no explanation has been given for the differing values.

Sergeant Hurley had no receipts for his property, and offered to sign a statutory declaration, but the QPS took him at his word.

The documents, released to The Australian after an FOI request a year ago, show that two weeks after the riots, on December 10, 2004, Sergeant Hurley sent his superiors a memo with a list of personal property believed to have been in the three-bedroom residence when it burnt down. "This list is as exhaustive as possible from memory alone," Sergeant Hurley wrote. The total of the items on the list came to $102,955, but the items were exempted from release under FOI and will remain secret.

Sergeant Hurley sent a similar memo to the district office the same day, with a smaller list of police property and some personal items, including a Parker pen he valued at about $100, a torch valued at $80, two coffee mugs and a 2004 hardcover diary.

"In relation to my personal property, as you area (sic) aware the OIC residence was also totally destroyed during the riot hence I have no proof of purchase for my personal items," Sergeant Hurley wrote. "I am prepared if necessary to complete a statutory declaration. "I respectfully request permission to replace these items and have the Queensland Police Service meet the cost," Sergeant Hurley said.

The claim went as high as a deputy commissioner and was paid in full on February 11, 2005, with the QPS expenditure voucher declaring the payment to Sergeant Hurley to be "loss of property compensation".


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