Tuesday, June 07, 2016

S. Australia: Election candidate for Makin Mark Aldridge to sue police over gun raid

A FEDERAL election candidate in Adelaide’s north says he will sue SA Police for $500,000 over its bungled handling of a firearms raid on his home.

A Police Ombudsman report, released this month, found there was no “reasonable basis” for officers to pursue a gun charge against independent candidate for Makin Mark Aldridge.

Officers attended Mr Aldridge’s Penfield Gardens home in May 2013 and cautioned him for having three insecure rifles.

A day later, on the instructions of a senior officer, police returned and confiscated the rifles and two pistols, reporting him for failing to secure his weapons.  The rifles were stored in a locked cellar. The pistols were in a safe.

Police dropped the case in May 2014 because Mr Aldridge would likely successfully argue his cellar acted as a “strong room” for his weapons. Mr Aldridge complained to Police Ombudsman Michael Grant.

Police inspected Mr Aldridge’s firearms based on allegations he had threatened RSPCA officers during a separate incident. The RSPCA never lodged a complaint with police and Mr Aldridge denied the allegations.

Mr Grant said police had no “reasonable basis” to seize the firearms or grounds to suspect Mr Aldridge was “an undue danger”.

His report showed a sergeant justified the seizure by saying officers may have suspected Mr Aldridge was not a fit and proper person to have guns, he made a false statement on his 2013 gun licence renewal and may be a threat to public safety. All reasons were found to be baseless.

Mr Grant considered the arrest warrant should not have been issued but that any negligence by SAPOL officers in relation to that warrant was not sufficient to amount to misconduct.  He recommended the sergeant receive “managerial guidance”.

Mr Aldridge said he would sue the government for $500,000.  “It’s just going to change how officers treat people, which I’m glad about,” he said.

A police spokeswoman said the Ombudsman’s recommendations had been implemented.

Original report here

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