Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brisbane cop who bashed handcuffed prisoners keeps his job

A POLICE officer who bashed handcuffed prisoners at a Brisbane station will be allowed to keep his job.

The Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal has suspended the dismissal of Constable Patrick Gardiner for three years despite finding three misconduct charges against him were substantiated.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission had appealed to the tribunal after an internal police investigation dismissed two of the three charges against him, and imposed no penalty for the third.

The charges related to 11 excessive-force incidents in 2004 where Constable Gardiner was accused of slapping, throwing, kicking and punching six offenders in the Brisbane City Beat office.

On one occasion in September 2004, Constable Gardiner removed a prisoner's handcuffs and enticed him into a fight.

In the QCAT ruling, Judge Fleur Kingham found Constable Gardiner was relatively inexperienced at the time of the assaults. "It is regrettably true that police are sometimes abused and obstructed when lawfully exercising their powers," the judgment said. "Undoubtedly this occurs more frequently for those officers working at a City Beat station."

Justice Kingham said Constable Gardiner faced unacceptable behaviour from some of the complainants who were affected by alcohol, disrespectful, insulting or abusive or inciting others to "take on" the police. "It must be acknowledged that sustained exposure to such conduct has a cumulative effect."

Since being removed from the City Beat station and sent to a "more sedate suburban station" Constable Gardiner's conduct had been without reproach, said the judgment. "A consulting psychologist, who assessed and counselled Constable Gardiner in 2005, thought that move was vital for him to de-stress and review his policing practices," the judgment said.

Based on his clean record since the 2004 assaults, Justice Kingham ruled a recommendation to dismiss him from the police service should be suspended for three years.

"By the end of the operational period, it will be almost nine years since the conduct occurred; a very considerable period during which he will have had to serve at risk of bearing severe consequences for his conduct," the judgment said.

The findings will be recorded in Constable Gardiner's disciplinary history. A CMC spokeswoman said the commission respected QCAT's decision.


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