Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mass failure in the Western Australian justice system

Great to see the b****s getting sued. Not before time. Too often people in such positions get away without any redress against them at all

The man wrongfully convicted of the 1994 murder of Perth jeweller Pamela Lawrence is suing eight police officers, the director of public prosecutions and others accused of bungling the investigation. Andrew Mallard, who spent 12 years in jail for the murder before the High Court quashed his conviction, has lodged a writ in the WA Supreme Court for damages against 14 individuals and the state of Western Australia.

A recent inquiry by retired NSW judge John Dunford QC found two assistant police commissioners, Mal Shervill and David Caporn, then detective sergeants, caused witnesses to change their statements. They either used persistent and repeated questioning or deliberately raised doubts in witnesses minds, Mr Dunford said. Mr Shervill was also found to have changed police records.

Deputy DPP Ken Bates engaged in misconduct and failed to question forensic pathologist Dr Clive Cooke about whether Mrs Lawrence's injuries were consistent with the use of a wrench, Mr Dunford said. Police claimed Mr Mallard had identified the wrench as the murder weapon during interviews.

Also listed in the writ are the police commissioner, the police minister, the chief forensic pathologist, a chemist and a psychiatrist.

Mr Mallard is seeking damages, aggravated damages, exemplary or punitive damages and interest from most of those named in the action, including current DPP Robert Cock QC. Mr Cock is being sued for negligence, breach of statutory duty, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution. An undercover police officer and another investigator are also being named in the writ for encouraging Mr Mallard to use cannabis at a time when he was "psychologically vulnerable".

West Australian police union president Mike Dean says lawyers will have a field day. "Matters of compensation are essentially with the government," Mr Dean said. "We're looking at a four to five year civil process which will cost both sides many millions of dollars. "I think the theatre has overtaken the facts in this case ... and they seem to want someone's head. "If you read the (Dunford) report closely, you'll see that there are no corruption issues. There were 52 separate allegations of corruption, originally, and none of them (were carried)."

Mr Mallard was released from jail in 2006 and is now living interstate.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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

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