Saturday, November 17, 2012

Australia: No conviction for officer charged with stealing money during drug bust

A DETECTIVE who was caught on camera pocketing up to $1000 during a drug bust on Brisbane's southside had a "death wish" when he did it, a court has heard.

Detective Sgt Shane Allen Stirling, 40, was today sentenced to 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to stealing as a clerk or servant in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor acting Inspector John Lane said the Crown alleged Stirling pocketed $1000 during the drug raid in Woodridge on June 25 this year, but defence lawyer Steve Zillman argued it had only been $300.

Insp Lane did not read a statement of facts to the court but indicated the Crown was seeking jail time of up to two years.

Mr Zillman said his client had enjoyed a "meritorious career" for more than 20 years working on difficult and complex investigations of criminal misconduct, particularly in organised crime and homicides.

He detailed ongoing psychological difficulties Stirling had grappled with and failed to seek treatment for since 2004, partly out of fear of acknowledging any shortcoming with the Queensland Police Service because of a perception it would be "a sign of weakness".

"Much of it was able to be disguised from the service and from his colleagues because there is a perception within the police service that if you do suffer these kinds of conditions, that is a sign of weakness," Mr Zillman said.

Mr Zillman could offer no explanation for why his client took the money during the drug raid, but tendered medical records that indicated Stirling suffered bi-polar disorder and was "delusional" at the time. "He was, by any measure, out of touch with reality," he said.

"It appears it was the playing out of a death wish, and it has been achieved, because he has no future with the Queensland Police Service." Mr Zillman said QPS had already instigated disciplinary action seeking the dismissal of Stirling.

Deputy chief Magistrate Orazio Rinaudo exercised his discretion to not record a conviction against Stirling.

"The public demands, as it must, the integrity of major sectors of the community but in particular, for police officers to uphold the law," he said.

"There has been public humiliation and a future which as far as work is concerned, looks at this stage, bleak."

He said Stirling had shown remorse and returned the money taken during the raid.

Original report here

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