Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Police breath test for mates probe

The Police Integrity Commission is investigating whether police officers at Moree and Orange took breath tests for mates, including the son of a fellow police officer, so they would not be charged with drink driving.

The Commission is looking at two incidents including one at Moree last year in which it will be alleged a man who registered a mid-range reading at a roadside breath test was allowed to skip his second test at the police station and drive home because he worked for Corrective Services.

It will be alleged a police officer did the test for him and registered a blood alcohol reading of zero.

In the second case in Orange last year, the son of a police officer blew a reading of more than 0.02 at a road side random breath test, which is a high range reading. After his father was contacted he was escorted home and someone else did the second test at the police station on his behalf, his reading was officially registered as zero.

Both cases came to the attention of senior police who began the investigation before they were handed over to the Commission.

In his opening address counsel assisting the Commission, David Staehli, said whatever the findings "it is anticipated that there will be shown to be amongst some officers a view of their obligations which is at best inconsistent with their duties as enforcers of the law and at worst plainly criminal".

Updated 3:48pm (AEST)

Officer denies drink-drive corruption claim

The inquiry's has heard that in September last year, Corrective Services officer David John Webb recorded a reading of 0.134 when he was pulled up by police at Moree. It is alleged he got out of the charge after calling his boss, John Arthur Weavers. Mr Weavers told the inquiry he called his friend Jeffrey Budd at the station, but said it was just a courtesy call. In the witness stand, Mr Weavers said he was very drunk at home when Mr Webb called him. He said he cannot remember details, but admitted it is possible he asked Inspector Budd, who is now the duty officer at Tamworth, to do the best he could for Mr Webb. He did not deny suggesting a police officer blow into the bag to record a reading of zero. Mr Webb was later allowed to drive home with a police escort. Mr Webb has also given evidence in which he admitted to buying a policeman a beer after the incident, but denied it was to return the favour. The inquiry continues.

Updated 6:35 (AEST)

Breath tests faked by police

TWO policemen have admitted falsifying a breath analysis so a prison guard from their station could escape a drink-driving charge, alleging senior police and Corrective Services officers gave them "the green light". Senior Constable Phil Smith said the Corrective Services Assistant Superintendent for Moree, John Weavers, called when he heard about Mr Webb's arrest and told him to "get someone else to blow in the bag". Mr Webb was allowed to drive home and Mr Smith blew into the bag to produce a clean result.

Another constable, James Boaden, wrote a false address and occupation on the incident sheet, and falsely quoted Mr Webb as saying "thank goodness" when the reading was done. Mr Smith told Mr Boaden that "if everything does turn to shit, we will just stick to our story". But when he discovered there was an investigation into the incident, "I spoke to Constable Boaden and told him to tell the truth." Mr Smith said he told Mr Webb he was lucky to escape the charge. Mr Boaden told the commission he heard Mr Smith discuss Mr Webb's situation with his superior, Inspector Geoffrey Budd, over the phone. "[Mr Smith told me] we have been given the green light … I was under the impression that a certain course of action was expected from us." When asked whether he believed something improper would follow, he said: "Yes." The hearings continue today.

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