Friday, May 22, 2015

The price of rotten cops IV

Remember the Nelson Red Devils case? Back in 2012, drugs and firearms charges against 28 alleged gang members were thrown out because police abused the court process by forging a search warrant and an arrest warrant to build the credibility of a police spy. The police appealed, the Court of Appeal ruled that it had to be reconsidered, and it has been - with the same result. last week the High Court excluded all evidence against all but the most serious charges, on the basis that to allow it was disproportionate and a violation of the Evidence Act. And yesterday, Justice Collins issued a stay of proceedings on those serious charges because to allow them to proceed would be a gross abuse of the court process. And in case anyone was in any doubt, the full decision is absolutely damning. It suggests that the police committed multiple criminal offences by forging a court document, perjuring themselves, and (ironicly) failing to answer bail. They may also have perverted the course of justice (naturally, none of the police responsible for these offences have ever been charged - the law is for us, not for them). It goes on:

allowing the trial to continue invites the community to believe that the Courts implicitly condone the police misconduct in this case. Nothing could be further from the truth. Allowing the Crown to continue with this trial in circumstances where the significant misconduct of the police would be a focal point of the trial would diminish the Court’s ability to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system. There is a real risk that anything other than a significant response risks being seen as weak rhetoric.

Fourth, maintaining the integrity of the criminal justice system, even at the cost of staying the remaining serious charges that post-date 1 June 2010, is a proportionate and appropriate measure that is required to uphold public confidence in the administration of justice. This Court must protect the criminal justice system from being “degraded” and “misused”.

And I agree. Its misconduct so outrageous that the charges have to be dropped. But the result is that 21 defendants walk free on 148 charges, which included not just drug dealing (which honestly I don't give a shit about), but conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, and various firearms offences. And that's the price of rotten cops right there: criminals go free. if the police don't want it to happen, they need to behave honestly, rather than breaking the law to get arrests.

Meanwhile, it raises the obvious question: how many other times have the police used a false warrant and false arrest under forged court documents to bolster the stories of their undercover spies? And how many people are currently sitting in jail because of such criminal misconduct?