Monday, December 08, 2008

Crooked Australian cop finally in real trouble?

A DETECTIVE whose evidence helped convict a man for a notorious child murder has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission confirmed a "former police officer" had been charged and would face a central Queensland court next month as a result of an extensive investigation.

The Courier-Mail has learned the officer is former Rockhampton Criminal Investigation Branch chief Detective Senior-Sergeant Graham Richards, who gave evidence in the case against convicted killer Graham Stafford almost 16 years ago. Richards was one of two lead Ipswich CIB detectives who helped put Stafford behind bars for the slaying of 12-year-old Leanne Holland in 1991.

In June last year, The Courier-Mail revealed Richards was being investigated by the CMC as part of a wide-ranging investigation into alleged misconduct by police officers. The inquiry was known as Operation Capri. A CMC spokeswoman said the former officer would face Rockhampton Magistrate's Court on January 12. "A former police officer, as part of a CMC investigation, has been issued with a notice to appear (in court) on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice," she said. The charges are believed to be unrelated to the Stafford case. It is understood another police officer and a convicted murderer also have been charged with trying to pervert the course of justice.

Richards has already been the subject of a separate CMC investigation in 2005 and was disciplined for allegedly failing to comply with police guidelines and the Police, Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 and unlawfully detaining a woman.

Stafford has protested that he had no role in the murder of his then girlfriend's sister. Holland was last seen leaving her family home at Goodna, which she shared with her father, Stafford and her sister, Melissa, on September 23, 1991. Her partially decomposed body was found in bushland at Redbank Plains three days later. She had been struck with a hammer. Stafford was convicted of Holland's murder on March 25, 1992.

Sgt Richards was a CIB detective senior-constable when assigned to investigate the Holland murder. Richards and his then partner, Detective Senior-Constable Allan Fynes-Clinton, were responsible for interrogatiing Stafford and charging him with Holland's murder. Richards was also a key witness after he found a maggot in the boot of Stafford's car. The discovery of the maggot formed part of the Crown's circumstantial case against Stafford. Stafford has launched two unsuccessful appeals against his conviction despite being released by Queensland's Department of Corrective Services early last year. In April, Attorney-General Kerry Shine granted Stafford a third Court of Appeal hearing, which is expected to be heard early next year.

Original report here

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

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