Slack Qld police again
I am not surprised. When my car was stolen, they THREW AWAY evidence leading to the offender. Officer Turgeon is greatly to blame As in Britain at the time, police policy was apparently not to investigate car theft
A juvenile offender allegedly involved in a terrifying armed hold up of a young woman in her own bedroom has been acquitted after a court heard police “didn’t bother” to collect crucial witness statements or seize a weapon found at the scene.
Police had alleged the boy was among a group of young armed males who forced their way into the female’s bedroom and demanded money, threatening to smash a television if she didn’t comply.
But he has walked free this month after a botched police investigation and failed prosecution resulted in him being found not guilty after a trial in the Children’s Court of Queensland, with the presiding judge saying she had a reasonable doubt about the boy’s guilt given the lack of evidence put forward by the prosecution.
In her trial judgment, Judge Vicki Loury described the failure to call witnesses to the alleged incident as “entirely unsatisfactory”.
The boy’s defence argued he was not present during the burglary at Redbank Plains and the complainant, who had met him about five or six times prior to the incident, mistakenly identified him.
According to the judgment, witnesses who may have been able to identify the alleged offenders were not asked to give statements or called to give evidence, CCTV collected by police from neighbouring properties was not tendered in evidence, and the weapon the boy allegedly left at the scene was not seized or examined by police.
After the teens fled, the complainant found a steering wheel lock under the sheets in her bed which she assumed the defendant hid when police arrived.
“Photos were taken of the item some days later,” Judge Loury wrote. “It was not seized, nor subject to a forensic examination. “There is no explanation in the evidence for that not having occurred.”
Judge Loury said Senior Constable Eliza Wheeler gave evidence at trial that while she was at the crime scene speaking with a person, the defendant approached and asked her what was going on.
He claimed he had come from a nearby house behind the complainant’s address.
“No effort was made to confirm his account,” Judge Loury wrote, noting no attempt was made to get statements from others at that address who could support or deny his story.
Police also failed to take witness statements from people who may have been able to identify the defendant – including the complainant’s brother who had opened the front door to the alleged offenders and her friend who was in the bedroom at the time of the incident.
Judge Loury said Senior Constable Brook Mair gave evidence she took over the investigation nine months after the incident and collected CCTV footage that was not tendered in evidence.
“In cross examination she confirmed that she spoke to the complainant’s brother to try to get a statement from him,” Judge Loury wrote.
“In the end, she did not bother as it was too hard with her rosters to obtain a statement from him.
“She did not attempt to obtain a statement from the complainant’s friend, … who the complainant said was inside her room during the incident.”
Judge Loury said the officer also “did not bother” to follow up the defendant’s claim that he was visiting a nearby house and was unaware of whether the steering wheel lock found in the complainant’s bed was seized or forensically examined.
Judge Loury said it was likely the complainant’s friend and brother would both have been able to shed some light on the identity of the defendant had police bothered to speak to them.
“I consider the explanations given for the failure to call the complainant’s brother to give evidence or the complainant’s friend, … and the failure to call any of the residents from (the property the defendant claimed to have come from) to be entirely unsatisfactory,” Judge Loury wrote.
“It would be reasonable for a prudent police officer to have obtained statements from each of these material witnesses and for them to be called at the trial of the defendant.
“The prosecutor has conceded that it would be open to draw an inference adverse to the Crown given the state of the evidence before me.”
Judge Loury said the complainant was a careful and honest witness and that there was strength to her evidence that the defendant was one of the intruders in the room.
“In this case where the central issue is one of identification/recognition, and taking into account the special need for caution before convicting in reliance on the correctness of the complainant’s identification, the failure to call material witnesses who could have shed light on this very issue means that I ought to entertain a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the defendant,” she wrote.
The boy was found not guilty of a charge of entering a dwelling with intent to commit an indictable offence armed and in company.