Monday, November 09, 2015

Western Australia Police Minister concedes major cases could have been mishandled

This reflects the poor relationships between Aborigines and W.A. police.  Aborigines in custody will often agree to almost anything so special care has to be taken not to ask leading questions.  The case below would seem to be about police NOT taking any precautions at all.

A scathing review of the bungled police investigation into the death of Josh Warneke could indicate other major crime squad cases have been mishandled, Police Minister Liza Harvey has conceded.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) last week released its report into the police handling of the case, in particular flawed 2012 interviews with Kimberley man Gene Gibson, who later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Mr Warneke, 21, was bashed with a metal pole and left to die by the side of a road in Broome in August 2010.

The report found "the errors of individuals reflect a deeper malaise and systemic weakness, which permeates criminal investigations in this state".

Mrs Harvey was asked if the case raised doubts about other major crime investigations in Western Australia.

"It's quite possible and I would put to members of the community, if they feel that they are aggrieved with the respect to the way their matter has been investigated, that they should contact police," Ms Harvey told reporters.

Gibson, from the Western Desert [Aboriginal] community of Kiwirrkurra, was charged in August 2012 with murdering Mr Warneke in Broome in 2010.

But police questioned him without a translator and the Supreme Court ruled his interviews were involuntary and inadmissible.

Gibson's lawyers then negotiated with prosecutors who accepted a plea of guilty to manslaughter.

The CCC was highly critical of the Major Crime Squad, which headed the investigation and conducted the interviews.

The watchdog found detectives failed to follow procedures and breached the Criminal Investigations Act.

It said the squad needed to urgently review its capacity to conduct admissible interviews and the way it dealt with people with language difficulties.

Five officers have been stood aside as an internal investigation into police conduct continues.

The CCC did not publicly release any opinions of misconduct regarding the case but gave a separate report to police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan, who has said he was considering the report.

Mrs Harvey said she did not believe Mr O'Callaghan should be sacked, but all the CCC's recommendations should be adopted and it was his responsibility to enact change.

She said he had already taken steps to change the management structure in the Major Crime Squad.

"It is up to the commissioner, he's been in the role for a long time, to sort any of these issues out," Mrs Harvey said.

"If there's a cultural issue, I expect him to address it. He's given me his assurance that he will."

Original report here

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