Monday, August 07, 2006


Three stories below:

Effort-averse Queensland police finally forced to investigate double murder

A woman shoots "herself" three times according to police -- making it a "suicide". Sure saved them the time and cost of a murder investigation! It took a nationwide TV program to move them off their behinds

Police have re-opened investigations into one of Queensland's most controversial and long-running murder cases. Mother-of-four Julie-Anne Leahy, 26, and her best friend Vicki Arnold, 27, were found dead in Leahy's 4WD on a remote track near Atherton in north Queensland in July 1991. They had been missing 15 days. Leahy was bashed with a rock, had her throat slashed and was shot twice. Arnold, whose hand was resting on a sawn-off .22 rifle, was shot three times. Police wrote it off as a murder-suicide - a view supported later by two inquests in 1992 and 1999.

But relatives of the women refuse to accept Arnold killed her mate before turning the gun on herself, and inquiries by journalists and government-appointed investigators have raised doubts over the rulings. Queensland police yesterday confirmed detectives were again reviewing the case after revelations from key witnesses. Arnold's mother Vida said yesterday: "It's about time they did something. I've been waiting 15 years." Late last year, Tablelands MP Rosa Lee Long presented a 1364-signature to State Parliament, calling on Attorney-General Linda Lavarch to appoint independent, interstate investigators to report to a coroner.

But Queensland Coroner Michael Barnes has asked Ms Lavarch to hold off while police continue their work. Mr Barnes declined to release any further information. But a police spokeswoman said yesterday: "Police are reviewing information received as a result of the 60 Minutes program."

In the Nine show, which was screened in September, Leahy's sister Vanessa Stewart - aged 15 at the time of the women's disappearance - said Leahy's husband Alan had coached her in what to tell police. Ms Stewart said Mr Leahy had begun a relationship with her just before the women vanished but there was no sex until after she turned 16. "I was coached, so to speak, in what to say about what happened that night," she said. "I wasn't allowed to say what was actually happening that night between him and I, and a story was concocted."

Mr Leahy - who stood to benefit from a $121,000 insurance policy and later successfully sued to get $45,000 from Arnold's estate - has always denied being involved in the deaths. He is now believed to be in Alice Springs and could not be contacted yesterday. One of the first two police officers at the scene, former senior constable Bill Hendrikse, last year told investigative journalist Robert Reid he was convinced the women were murdered by a third party. But he said the investigation was killed at the time because of concerns over the cost of a full murder inquiry.

Lawyer Philip Bovey, who represented the Leahy family at the second inquest, said: "It's long overdue. I said after last inquest that in 20 years of being involved in criminal law, it's probably the most disappointing decision I have experienced."


"No go" zones in Queensland

Queensland police bosses just let it slide

They are the no-go zones: areas of Queensland even some police fear to tread. A Sunday Mail investigation has uncovered the most dangerous streets, parks and beaches in the state, where the threat of violence is a nightly reality. By day, places such as Brisbane's Queen St Mall and Surfers Paradise beach are filled with families, office workers and tourists. By night these areas are ruled by drug dealers and addicts, pimps, muggers and murderers. Backpackers who have travelled through some of the world's most dangerous cities say Brisbane rates as the worst.

"I wouldn't take my family into Queen St Mall after nine o'clock at night," a police officer told The Sunday Mail. Taxi drivers said the State Government-enforced 3am nightclub lock-out was to blame. "The top of the Mall near the casino is the worst," a taxi driver said. "It is just full of people fighting because they have nowhere to go after 3am and they all end up outside the casino. There is no public transport for them so they just end up in fights."

Another officer said he feared entering Alden St in Fortitude Valley's nightclub district. Officers on patrol at night often refused to get out of the police car. "You can't pay me enough to go into that area," he said. "It's a pretty scary place. You never know what is lurking around the corner."

The pedestrian underpass at Kemp Place between All Hallows School and Marshall St in Fortitude Valley is also off-limits. Young travellers to Brisbane have told of being terrified as they negotiate the tunnel, which locals rarely venture down at night. The 22-year-olds, who have backpacked through Delhi, Calcutta, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, were chased by a gang of men as they used the tunnel. "Brisbane is the most dangerous city we have travelled in," one of the backpackers said. "Everyone at the backpackers was talking about how scary it is."

Rapes, muggings and stabbings have turned the City Botanic Gardens and Goodwill Bridge into danger zones. A man, 20, was recently attacked by a knife-wielding gang while attempting to cross the dimly-lit bridge at 11.30pm. He was cut and bruised and robbed by the thugs.

The streets of Surfers Paradise have long been renowned for assaults in the early hours of the morning, but now the beach has also become a hot spot for trouble. Lifesavers on patrol early in the morning warn the worst time is between 4am and 5am. "That's when all the people spill out of the clubs. It's extremely dangerous," a senior lifesaver said. "People have been assaulted on the beach. There is little lighting in the area. It's the worst place."

Drunks have driven some retailers to despair at Southport's Scarborough St. "We've had people who have urinated in the shop," said a retailer, who sold out recently. Area councillor Dawn Crichlow has led a campaign to rid the area of public phones being used for drug deals. Kirra's Marine Parade has gone through a building boom which has forced the homeless from parks to the beach. Nippers at training sessions are regularly confronted by vagrants. Bikie gangs also use the area as a meeting spot.

The area is improving, but not fast enough for locals who believe more policing will be needed. In Cairns, parts of Westcourt and Parramatta Park have become flashpoints for random violence. Sources say the latest area of increasing concern is Lake St, which bisects the CBD and extends along the tourist city's fringe. As recently as February, two police officers were hurt when up to 40 drunken louts turned on them during a street fight.

In Townsville, police say trouble continues to erupt at Flinders St East nightclub strip, where drunkenness and brawls have plagued police for years.

On the Sunshine Coast, many women refuse to walk in Noosa National Park because of the area's violent history. They say residents often warned female tourists to complete the 15km walk before dusk. Aleaha Jade Schipper, then 18, and lesbian lover Sarah Fotini Bird, 17, attacked New Zealand grandmother Dulcie Brook in the national park on June 30, 1998. Ms Brook was stabbed 26 times. A Japanese tourist was raped after being kidnapped as she walked through the park on Christmas Day 2001. Gympie residents said the band rotunda in Memorial Park was dangerous after dark. A local said people gathered in the park to drink alcohol and often became verbally and physically abusive


The rot goes to the top in the Queensland police (As ever)

(Queensland is the only State that has ever had to jail a Police Commissioner for corruption)

A police officer has slammed his bosses for not supporting frontline staff but doing deals to benefit defendants. Ipswich Senior Constable Ian Leavers said it was no surprise police on the beat felt they were "on their own" because of their bosses' silence. The Queensland Police Union southern region representative was commenting on a controversial case in which an Ipswich mother of five was fined for abusing police. Yvette Veronica Green, 38, of Riverview, was arrested and handcuffed for double-parking outside a school in January. She allegedly called one officer a "pedophile" and "fat" during a tirade of four-letter words. She pleaded guilty to being a public nuisance and was fined $300. Two more serious charges were dropped.

Writing in the QPU Journal, Sen-Constable Leavers said Green enjoyed more support than the officers involved in the case, Sen-Constables Anthony Brett and Kathrine Stafford. "What was disgusting was that while the defendant was obviously enjoying her new-found stardom and notoriety, the police involved had to endure great personal stress as a result of simply doing their job," he said. "The police union came out and defended the police involved, however the Queensland Police Service hierarchy were conspicuous in their absence." Sen-Constable Leavers also criticised police prosecutors for withdrawing charges against Green. "It is apparent the service is not prepared to fight anything any more."

Sen-Constable Leavers told The Sunday Mail this week that frontline staff felt as if they had been let down by the bosses in many cases, from Commissioner Bob Atkinson down. "This is happening all the time. If there is any incident, they are ready to kick us . . . " he said. "It is a minefield out there. Senior police have got no idea how things have changed out there. "The disappointing part of all this is that even after police had been found to have acted correctly, the hierarchy remain silent. "Is it any wonder many police out there feel that they are on their own . . . They (the bosses) are too frightened to support them," he said

A police service spokeswoman said Mr Atkinson issued a media release in January soon after the controversial incident and backed his officers. The statement said the media had publicised only one side of the story.



Two stories below:

Drunken police riot

Police Commissioner Ken Moroney was forced to introduce a curfew at the Goulburn police college yesterday, after a drunken rampage involving as many as six off-duty officers in the town. One officer has been issued with a court appearance notice, after being caught urinating in public during the early hours of Friday morning. Another officer is being investigated for an alleged assault after an altercation with a member of the public, and a third faces action for allegedly refusing to leave a bar when asked to. The incidents took place between 9.30pm on Thursday and about 2.30am on Friday after a group of officers left the college for a night on the town.

Mr Moroney also announced the appointment of Christine Ronalds, SC yesterday to help reform "gender-based policy" and codes of conduct within the NSW Police. The move follows revelations of widespread sexual harassment within the force, and inappropriate sexual contact between students and instructors at the police college.

Mr Moroney said last week's antics were the last straw in his decision to impose an 11pm curfew on Sunday to Thursday nights, and midnight for Friday and Saturdays. "It's just a case of people going into the city of Goulburn to celebrate," he said. "Some appear to have celebrated too much."

Breath tests conducted at the college the next morning returned positive results for seven out of 113 officers. All 101 students tested returned negative results.

Several other incidents involving police officers or people "claiming" to be police officers also occurred during the drunken spree, including two further alleged assaults. Goulburn police are reviewing CCTV footage and seeking witness statements. Six of the seven officers who tested positive to alcohol have been removed from the college and returned to their local area command, where they face further sanction. The seventh, an instructor at the college, faces disciplinary action there.

Police Minister Carl Scully denied there was a systematic culture of alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct at the college, saying the majority of teachers and students lived up to the high standards expected of them. Those who misbehaved would now face harsher penalties than in the past, Mr Scully said.


Israeli killed -- disgusting lack of information from NSW police

The police have obviously been given enough information to issue an ethnic description of the attackers below so their failure to do so is very suspect. Bondi being Bondi, the attackers are most likely to have been Maoris but the silence and the "carload" mentioned suggest Lebanese Muslims. It would make a big difference if people knew whether they were looking for Maoris or Lebanese. They look very different. Maoris look like large, fat East-Asians. The report below is from a newspaper but the police site is in fact even less informative

Police are trying to establish the motive for the stabbing murder of an Israeli left for dead outside a shop in Bondi after a brutal attack by a carload of men. The 36-year-old victim was set upon by the gang whom witnesses say bashed him with a pole or something similar and left him with multiple stab wounds about 9.45pm (AEST) last night.

When police arrived at the scene outside a convenience store at the intersection of Glenayr Avenue and Beach Road at Bondi Beach, the man was slumped on the footpath. He was treated at the scene and taken to St Vincents Hospital for emergency surgery but died shortly before 4am (AEST) today. Superintendent Mark Walton said detectives were trying to contact the man's family who live overseas. He said the man, an Israeli citizen, had lived in the area for some time and was helped following the attack by about six people who are currently being interviewed by police.

Police say the motive is not known, although it is not believed to be racially motivated or related to the continuing conflict between Israel and the Hizbollah in Lebanon. Nor is it clear how many people were involved in the attack or if they knew their victim.

Police have issued descriptions of two men they wish to interview over the murder. One man is described as 178cm tall, of medium build with shoulder length dark hair and clean shaven, wearing jeans and a black top. The second is 170cm tall, of medium build with dark short hair. "We are trying to determine how many people were involved but at this stage we are focused on those two men," Supt Walton told reporters outside Bondi Police Station. "We have neither recovered or have a good description of the weapon." Detectives are also hunting for a green Mitsubishi Pajero with NSW registration SVJ 201 which was seen driving away from the area immediately after the attack.

"The motivation in relation to this incident is unknown at this stage," Supt Walton said. "We are very open minded but there is nothing in relation to information or evidence that it is connected to this man's nationality or religious background."

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said witnesses to the attack told him the group of men had also used a pole. "There was a car load of people who stopped and they got out and they assaulted him pretty brutally and some of them were hitting him with a pole or something and there was multiple stabs," he said.



Should police investigate police? A police corruption watchdog's report on the way police investigate complaints against its members in one state force has raised serious concerns about the "willingness" to do the job properly. Western Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission says WA Police has handled a number of serious complaints "very poorly" and displayed a lack of willingness to investigate, supervise or control the quality of investigations.

The criticisms were in a CCC report released yesterday into progress on reforms being made by WA Police following that state's royal commission into police corruption. It pointed to continuing problems with the "cultural attitudes" of police officers towards conducting internal investigations against fellow officers. "There is still a fair way to go before the various reforms motivate all police officers to willingly challenge the unethical, criminal or unsavoury behaviour of their colleagues," the CCC said. The report found that problems with internal investigations included:

* An avoidance of decision-making about whether allegations are founded;

* A consideration of specific allegations in a narrowly focussed, discrete manner without considering the individual officer's history;

* A focussed attack on the complainant rather than circumstances of the complaint; and

* Inconsistent decisions across the agency about suitable outcomes

It presented five case studies that it said displayed a "a lack of willingness and investigative competence". In one a female police sergeant had a string of complaints made against her in 2002 and 2003, including drug taking, drink driving, harassment and misusing the police data base. An internal investigation also uncovered evidence of the sergeant's involvement in criminal activity. But instead of being sacked, as some senior officers wanted, she was put on disciplinary charges. In May 2005 she was charged with drink driving after being involved in a collision, The process of sacking her was started, but this time she was saved by the intervention of an assistant commissioner. In September 2005 she was back under investigation again, this time for lying to the Chief Commissioner and during disciplinary interviews. Her future is still being decided by the Chief Commissioner.

"In the Commission's view, the case study illustrates the reluctance of senior and local managers to take decisive and appropriate action against errant officers," the CCC report said.

The report has again raised the issue of whether police can be trusted to investigate their own. In WA, as in other states, the vast majority of complaints against police are handled internally and reviewed by various corruption watchdogs. But is this system a case of the tail wagging the (watch)dog? Should police complaints be independently investigated?


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