Saturday, October 11, 2008

Australia: No penalty for huge police negligence leading to death

The mother of a murder victim says an internal investigation into police negligence leading up to the shooting was nothing more than a "whitewash". Julie Wilson has vowed not to rest until there is an independent process for complaints against police, after a Police Complaints Authority investigation ended yesterday with a series of reprimands against six officers. None of the officers, who were found to have failed in their duty in the days before the murder of Christopher Wilson, have been stood down or had their pay reduced.

The Holden Hill officers were found to have failed to properly investigate the initial incident in which Mr Wilson, 23, was shot in the leg in February, 2004. Three days later, Mr Wilson was shot dead by the same man – Hootan Beigzadeh – who is now serving a minimum 16 1/2-year prison term for murder.

The police inaction was the subject of a coronial inquest, which heard police had dismissed Mr Wilson's complaints and failed to make any effort to track down Beigzadeh. The coroner identified 49 mistakes by police investigating the shooting. The authority also investigated the matter after Mrs Wilson lodged a complaint in 2004.

Yesterday, Senior Constable Michael Redden accepted a "recorded reprimand" from the complaints authority for "negligence in carrying out his duties". Snr Constable Redding interviewed Mr Wilson when he and his four friends went to the police station. Mrs Wilson said she was "unimpressed" by the outcome.

Five other officers also received "unrecorded reprimands" or internal "counselling" over their failures. "It is hardly an impressive penalty for failure to carry out a duty as a police officer and it is hardly procedural change . . . It's a whitewash," Mrs Wilson said. "The triumph will be when police complaints are investigated by people who are independent of police and when victims of crime are treated with some dignity. "We need an end to this secrecy and South Australians have got to demand it."

Mrs Wilson said there were many unanswered questions in the case, including the fate of police notes that went missing after the murder. She called for the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate such incidents, saying she had "no confidence" in "police investigating other police".

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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