Thursday, June 25, 2015

South Australian court jails corrupt former police officer for fabricating evidence to hide her cannabis growing operation

A CUNNING, self-interested woman whose "intricate fabric of deceit" hid her cannabis-growing operation while she served as an SA Police officer will spend at least nine months behind bars.

The District Court today rejected former police officer Amanda Boughen’s claims she was coerced and manipulated into the drug trade, and imposed a two-year prison term.

Judge Paul Rice imposed a lower-than-normal non-parole period of nine months because of the effect Boughen’s imprisonment will have on her young son.

However, he ruled not even the best interests of that child outweighed the fictitious identities, faked documents and extreme steps Boughen took to conceal her two drug crops.

"There was an intricate fabric of deceit that surrounded (the crops’) implementation, and you did not reluctantly acquiesce to it," he said. "It was actuated by self-interest, it was calculated and involved a certain amount of cunning. "The integrity of the administration of justice relies in part on the requirement that those who uphold the law also obey it. "In this regard, you failed in a spectacular and serious way."

Boughen, 40, of Mawson Lakes, pleaded guilty to one count of fabricating, altering or concealing evidence.

Between May and September 2006, she used the fake identity of "Nicole Hooper" to rent a property she owned and organise its electricity and utilities connections.

In turn, she received $200 a week rent from her then-boyfriend, Darryl Joseph, who used the Para Hills address to grow cannabis.

At the time of her crimes, Boughen was a serving SA Police officer. She was suspended with full pay when investigations into her conduct began, and has since resigned from SA Police.

Secrecy has surrounded much of Boughen’s case, and other charges of abuse of public office were dropped when she pleaded guilty to the fabrication count.

Boughen initially insisted she was a pawn, and under Joseph’s influence, at the time of her offending. She subsequently, and tearfully, "unreservedly apologised" for her actions, saying she was "humbled, broken" and blamed only herself.

Defence counsel asked Boughen be spared immediate jail, saying her son would have to be placed in the care of Families SA because she lacked family or friends to take him in.

Earlier this month, she told the court she wanted her decade-old case "over and done with".

In sentencing today, Judge Rice outlined the details of both the fabrication and the abuse of public office charges, saying he would take the latter into consideration.

He said that once Boughen and Joseph agreed to cultivate cannabis, she took steps to create "Nicole Hooper" so as to shield herself in the event the crops were discovered.

Judge Rice said Boughen paid herself rent, arranged an electricity account and even purchased a second-hand car, all in Hooper’s name, to further the deception.

He said that when the property’s wheelie bin was stolen, Boughen used Hooper’s name to report the theft, and even communicated with the fictional person by email.

"The email exchange was quite extraordinary," Judge Rice said. "You descended into detail ... ‘Nicole’ asked if she could have a puppy and said she was nervous about moving down because she would be working with a temp staff agency," he said.

"You even noted, in your personal diary, the proposed moving date for ‘Nicole’. "This was all designed to give the appearance that Nicole Hooper existed should the police investigate the cannabis cultivation."

Judge Rice said Boughen’s police experience was essential to the deception — through it, she knew what "markers" to create in government systems as to make Hooper seem real.

He said Boughen’s other crime occurred in 2010 when she tipped Storm Alexander Strang — ringleader of a $40 million drug syndicate — off to an imminent police investigation.

At that time, Strang’s associates were renting one of Boughen’s properties and she suspected they were growing cannabis, as she had previously done herself.

"You did nothing about your suspicions ... self-interest became predominant," he said. "That you, as a police officer, informed someone about an impending police raid says a lot about your integrity."

Judge Rice said personal references hailed Boughen as reliable, loving and honest, while psychological reports spoke of a dysfunctional childhood and co-dependency issues.

He emphasised that nothing, including the future of Boughen’s child, warranted the suspension of her sentence.

Original report here

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