Thursday, October 25, 2012

The price of rotten cops II

The police have just had a second case in two days thrown out because they abused their powers:

In a second case involving the Red Devils another judge was so concerned about a raid on club premises that he threw out charges against 28 people. Many are among the accused whose charges were dismissed yesterday.

The swoop on a barbecue at the Red Devils Motorcycle Club in Nelson was part of a two-year bid to snare gang members. About 50 people were at the August 2010 function and police suspected liquor laws were being broken.

However, in July this year Judge Chris Tuohy ruled out evidence because it was "improperly obtained" through "a series of breaches of the defendants' rights, some of which were significant infringements".

Officers had obtained search warrants to search the property but not individuals. After finding a small amount of drugs, they searched the party guests. Judge Tuohy said entry was "unlawful and unreasonable" as police chainsawed through fences despite being let through the front gate.

Judge Tuohy also said there was "no lawful basis" for the seizure of cash from guests. Some of those at the party were left with no money to get home, he said.

They were not adequately informed of their rights and were detained for a "unjustified length of time" in a cold yard in the early hours of a winter morning.

All 28 faced a charge of being on an unlicensed premises.

Having one case thrown out could be dismissed as a one-off failing. Having a second kicked suggests that something is seriously wrong. Particularly when its the same agency - OFCANZ - involved in both incidents.

There are a number of obvious questions which need to be asked: why were OFCANZ investigating such minor offending? And why did they use such excessive and disproportionate force for such a minor crime? Its hard to see this as anything other than a power trip gone wrong, a childish attempt to show a gang who was boss. And we'll all be paying for it when the compensation claims hit the courts.