Thursday, October 14, 2010

Report on police bash-artist 'ignored' by police HQ

POLICE have been accused of ignoring a damning report detailing the use of excessive force against an offender by former Whitsundays officer Benjamin Price. Footage of Price bashing offenders while Queensland Police officers looked on has gone global on YouTube after he was sentenced on Monday to 27 months' jail for assaults on handcuffed tourists.

The former acting officer-in-charge of Whitsundays police station, Russell Pike, claims that an "injury in custody" report involving an assault by Price – then a senior constable – against Sydney tourist Renee Toms at Airlie Beach watchhouse in January 2008 was lodged with police. "Immediately after that incident with Renee Toms in the watchhouse, both those female officers (who saw it) insisted it was an injury in custody," he said.

Mr Pike said that as a result, the relevant duty officer had been notified and had arranged for a detective to come to the station immediately. "It was an official report that requested an urgent investigation into the matter," Mr Pike said.

He said Ms Toms spoke to police before the injury in custody report was filed to the Mackay District Office. He said Ms Toms had suffered a split chin in the assault.

But a police spokesman yesterday denied the report was received. Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin, from the Ethical Standards Command, yesterday told reporters police had no knowledge of a complaint made by an officer in January 2008. In a response to a later detailed inquiry by The Courier-Mail as to whether police had received a report of an injury in custody, a spokesman said no such report had been received.

Senior police yesterday described the fallout from the case, dubbed "Queensland's Rodney King" as a nightmare.

The QPS yesterday faced allegations it had failed to take action against officers who witnessed the attacks and failed to report them and also ignored at least one other report into Price's violent behaviour.

Mr Martin said three Queensland police officers present when footage was taken of Price brutally bashing offenders were under investigation. The three officers are still working for the QPS. Mr Martin said it would be unlikely they would be charged. Mr Martin applauded first-year trainee constable Bree Sonter, who came forward in May 2008 after video footage captured Price punching and kneeing handcuffed man Timothy Steele.


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