‘After the Headlines’ tells the story of former NSW Detective Michael McGann’s battle for justice after being falsely accused during the Wood Royal Commission, 1996.
This article makes a lie of judicial integrity and credibility and shows the rank hypocrisy of ‘the system’. The old adage that the legal system has nothing to do with the truth, merely who plays the game the best is well illustrated in this story.
This is a story involving a paedophile cat burglar who was arrested, charged and convicted by a group of dedicated NSW Police officers whose reward for putting this scum behind bars was to be placed before the court themselves on fabricated charges laid as a result of the Wood Royal Commission into the NSW Police Force
The tragedy is that no organisation, politician, Ombudsman, you name it, is prepared to do anything about it because of the inherent ‘brotherhood’ that the ‘system’ itself promulgates.
They say that parents shouldn’t bury their children. Although my child, fortunately, didn’t die, what I had to say to her had the same gut-wrenching, soul destroying numb feeling that accompanies such tragedies.
I’d been involved in a 5 year old kid’s murder at Narooma in 1984 and seen my share of cot deaths and I saw the effect that this has on parents. You just can’t describe it or make things better.
She was proud, in her own little 5 year old way, that daddy had not just been a Policeman but was a Detective. She didn’t quite understand the difference, but knew there was something special about it.
I had always tried to be a role model for her, telling her about right and wrong, good and bad, using drugs etc and relating it to some of my own experiences and war stories, not having read it in any book but actually lived it but at the same time making sure it wasn’t too graphic for a 5 year old.
So back in 1999 I tried to explain to her that I might be going to gaol for at least 10 years as a result of what later turned out to be fabricated charges brought against me and some of my former colleagues by the Wood Royal Commission relating to an incident in my Police career that happened in 1984.
I couldn’t use the word ‘gaol’ to her because she wouldn’t know what it meant. All I could say to her was how would she be if daddy couldn’t see her for a long, long time. Her reply was burned into my memory banks-‘I’d be very sad daddy!’
The words of the famous George Carlin sprang to mind at this time: “If your kid needs a role model and you ain’t it, you’re both fucked.” What sort of role model would I be to her if I was doing time in one of Her Majesty’s prisons on trumped up charges?
As I was ruminating on this situation my mind went to the things that I knew well from my time as a Detective when I had to visit gaols as part of an enquiry, the endless walking back and forwards of the prisoners, the standard all green uniforms, prisoners pumping weights and the general menace that hung in the air.
To tell my kid that I might be going to gaol, to share a cell with a 6foot 9 tattooed bikie called ”Doris”, having once been a member of the illustrious Sydney C.I.B. was terrible.
I knew what was in store for me and my colleagues, as former Detectives, if this thing went ahead and we were in fact convicted. It involved something to do with a piece of conduit, a piece of barbed wire, a vice and a vital part of the anatomy! Police, particularly Detectives, don’t do it easy in gaol.
Not only did I have to contend with my 5 year old daughter, but I was also in a long term relationship with a lady named Therese and my parents, who were both alive at that time, were also in my mind. What do I tell them?
They were decent hard working people and I was the eldest son. They were incredibly proud of me and the career path I had chosen and the investigations I was involved in, particularly when I received the NSW Police Force’s highest award for bravery, the Valour Award at the Police Academy in 1989.
Local newspaper article regarding the Valour Award
With my family, and Therese, I decided to take the path of least resistance and put a gloss on what the possible outcome may be and the stress that I will endure over the coming years. After all I had always put myself up as 10 foot tall and bullet proof, so now was the time to show it.
I couldn’t hide the fact that this was happening as we were all over the media, I just told my loved ones that it will be OK. I wasn’t sure of that but no point in having everyone worry.
None of my colleagues took the situation lightly as we knew we were marked men as far as the Royal Commission was concerned. Brian Harding represented the old C.I.B. and was a decorated member of the Armed Hold Up Squad. The Royal Commission needed runs on the board to justify their $64 million enterprise and we were the runs.
John Davidson, my partner in the Special Breaking Squad, treated such things as Royal Commissions, ICAC and other such lawyer driven bodies with the contempt that they rightly deserved. He once famously wore a red suit to an ICAC hearing in Sydney and when asked by journos why he had the suit on he replied that if he was going to a circus he might as well look like a clown. Those who knew him loved him for it but the legal profession hated him with a passion.
What most of us thought of such organisations as ICAC, PIC etc
When the Royal Commission lawyers were developing their targets they would have salivated over the Kareela Cat burglar investigation given the cast of characters and allegations involved. It was a perfect storm brewing.
My belief if that John and Brian were the main targets and that my other colleagues, John Garvey, Steve York and myself were merely collateral damage by having been involved in this incident with them.
We knew how the ‘system,’ worked and the battle that was in front of us.
My philosophy in life when things go to shit is that you have 2 choices:-1) you can curl up in a corner, suck your thumb, adopt the foetal position and let them do it to you OR 2) you come out fighting. Up until I spoke to my daughter I was well and truly in the foetal position.
Once I realised that this affected my daughter as well, that was the time to say “Bugger this, who the fuck do they think they are, they can’t do this to me and get away with it.’
But I digress, so I’ll start at the beginning.
MY POLICE CAREER
By way of background I joined the NSW Police when I was 17 in 1973.
I performed uniform duty at various Sydney suburban stations before becoming a Detective and having the good fortune of being selected to go the one of the Squads of the then Sydney Criminal Investigation Branch, the C.I.B. or the Branch as it was known.
This was the ultimate destination for any Detective as the Squads only dealt with major crimes and hardened criminals.
I went to a Squad called the Special Breaking Squad which dealt with safe breakings, major thefts and acts of terrorism (yes we had these back then!!)
For various reasons the centralised C.I.B. commenced its dismantlement in 1983, being broken down to ‘regional’ crime squads before its final curtain call in 1987.
This was early into the so called ‘enlightened’ age of Policing, where the Police ‘Force’ became ‘Service’, where ‘Squads’ became ‘Units’ and where there was a push to remove the word ‘Weapons’ from the title of the Special Weapons and Operations Squad because it was considered intimidating.
TRANSFER TO THE REGIONAL CRIME SQUAD, SOUTH
The first of the Regional Crime Squads was based in western Sydney at Penrith earlier that same year with the second of the Regional Crime Squads being based at Miranda in the Sutherland Shire, south of Sydney, in November 1983.
The Regional Crime Squads were microcosms of the larger, centralised C.I.B. and were initially composed of smaller specialist Squads, such as the Armed Hold Up Squad, the Motor Squad, Drug Squad etc with the exception of the Homicide Squad which, at that time, remained centralised in town.
As I was a member of the Special Breaking Squad at the C.I.B., but living in the southern suburbs I found myself as one of 6 Detectives transferred from town to serve as a member of the newly formed Regional Crime Squad, South, Breaking Unit.
In charge of the unit was the then Detective Sergeant Rick Grady and as I mentioned my partner was Detective John Davidson (see below).
As members of the ‘Breakers’, our role was exactly the same as our role in our parent Squad.
To go back to the beginning I need to go to 1984-it was the year that Ronald Reagan was re-elected President of the United States despite the on-going Iran/Contra hearings, Bob Hawke was into his second year as Prime Minister and the Coalition Opposition Leader, Andrew Peacock, together with his deputy, John Howard were looking at another 12 years in Opposition.
It also saw the deaths of Indira Gandhi, Richard Burton, Marvin Gaye, Count Basie and Ethel Merman but at least Robert Trimbole was still alive for another 12 months!
Our prime time television in Sydney for that year was the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and ‘A Country Practice’, the book ‘Hunt for Red October’ was published, Doug Mulray was still the breakfast legend with 2MMM and Rex Jackson, the New South Wales Minister for Justice denied being paid to arrange the early release of some of the State’s prisoners. This didn’t wash and he later found himself facing conspiracy charges to accept bribes and sentenced to 7½ years gaol.
Earlier in that year, through the usually effective Police grapevine, we became aware of the activities of a so-called ‘cat burglar’ operating in the Sutherland area, mainly in a suburb known as Kareela and involving over $251,000 worth of property.
Kareela, which means either ‘fast’ or ‘place of trees and water’ was (and still is) a very attractive suburb in the Shire, being bordered by Jannali, Kirrawee, Gymea and Sylvania Heights. There is a large amount of bushland with well built, maintained and (even by 1984 standards) expensive homes. It also has one of the Sutherland Shires finest golf courses which is bounded by 2 main arterial roads, Bates Drive and the Princes Highway and largely figured in the activities of the Kareela Cat Burglar.
Although as a unit we were generally kept aware of the activities of this particular criminal by copies of completed Crime Reports sent to us by the local Sutherland Detectives, we were not then largely involved in any operation to assist the local Police to affect his arrest. Our role was mostly confined to maintaining a ‘running list’ of the robberies for analysis purposes.
Our lack of hands on involvement was considered as ‘odd’ but there was little that could be done as, in those days, we had to be invited to assist the investigation by the locals.
It later became apparent that our sidelining in the Kareela Cat Burglar enquiry came about from the later 1996 Royal Commission admissions of the Sutherland based Detective Sergeant in charge of the case that he was actually jealous of our involvement and did not want to share any of the perceived ‘glory’. This jealously later manifested itself at the Royal Commission when he saw this as an opportunity to exact revenge and he became one of the star Commission ‘rollover’ witnesses.
However all that was in the future. By plotting and analysing the numerous robberies committed by this offender in the Kareela area, it indicated to us in the Breakers that he was a cunning and experienced criminal and in all likelihood had had previous experience in these types of offences.
As an example of his experience at the game, while inside a victim’s bedroom on several occasions, he sometimes spoke to them if they woke up while he was in the room. He would pretend to be their son coming home late, reassuring his parents that he was OK.
The victims would invariably go back to sleep only to discover when they woke up that their house had been violated and their possessions stolen.
The act of talking to the victims under these circumstances alone required considerable nerve on the offender’s part and indicated that we were dealing with a very professional offender who knew the rules of engagement.
I recall one theft by this offender where a victim had placed his wallet on the bedside table with some loose change on top. The thief was able to steal the wallet from under the loose change with the victim sleeping inches away.
After being robbed by this individual some victims in the Kareela area had to sell their homes or move their children into their bedrooms to sleep due to the strain placed on them by this person being at large in the community.
Little girls sleeping in their beds sometimes woke up to see a man sitting on the edge of their bed, with his face covered. As was said at the time, the horror that these little girls experienced because of experiencing this in the dead of the night can only be imagined.
The offender also removed car keys from inside people’s homes and stole their motor vehicles to affect his escape.
To give an indication of the seriousness that the burglaries at Kareela were regarded Judge Harvey Cooper later commented during the later District Court trial that “….(T)he whole criminal enterprise, is not only of a considerable magnitude, not only of an extreme gravity, but also of professional skill, planning and organisation.”
Despite increased Police activity in the area, consisting of uniformed and Plain Clothes saturation patrols and stakeouts of the Kareela area, particularly the Golf Course, the offender remained at large.
ARREST OF ‘JOE PACE’ BY SUTHERLAND POLICE
We now move to the night of Thursday 28th June 1984. By this stage the offender had committed something like 115 ‘cat burglar’ offences in the Sutherland – Kareela area, valued in excess of $400,000.
On this particular night, an operation involving neighbouring Divisional Detectives, uniform Police and the Dog Squad was mounted.
It was planned that a number of Police vehicles were to be placed in strategic positions to carry out surveillance of the Kareela Golf Course area, with other police detailed to perform foot patrols of a selected area.
The area around The Esplanade, Christina Place, Freya and Solo Streets was also cordoned off.
About 3.10am on the morning of Friday 29th June, 1984 a flashlight was seen between houses in Freya Street, Kareela. Police were immediately alerted and surrounded the area. In a clever piece of work the Police vehicles were instructed to activate their lights and sirens to flush the offender from his hiding place.
Thus the people in the neighbourhood, in turning their lights on to see what all the noise was about, helped flush the offender out. With the assistance of the Police Dog Squad, the offender was finally arrested in the area of Solo Street.
When this individual was searched he was found to be in possession of $67 in cash, pieces of a local street directory and in a shoulder bag located in the near vicinity were found housebreaking implements including screwdrivers, a torch, surgical gloves, green garbage bag etc. This individual gave his name to the arresting Police only as ‘Joe Pace’, with his address as being ‘Mars’!
He was taken to Sutherland Police Station where he was charged (at that time) with one count of Break Enter and Steal resulting from the cash found in his possession when he was arrested, together with 1 count of break and enter with intent and 1 count of possession of housebreaking implements.
He refused to be fingerprinted by Police and was taken to the Sutherland Local Court later that same day where he was remanded by the Magistrate into Police custody at Sutherland Police Station cells until such time as his fingerprints were taken.
On the day of the arrest word filtered back to us at the Crime Squad at Miranda that an offender had been arrested by the Sutherland Police for the ‘cat burglar’ thefts but was being unco-operative by refusing to tell Police his name or allowing himself to be fingerprinted.
Later that day both John Davidson and I went to a favourite watering hole for Police, the United Services Club at Sutherland, to meet with the Detective Sergeant in charge of the enquiry.
In accordance with recognised Police protocols as well as courtesy, coupled with the fact that he didn’t seem to be making much progress into the bulk of the crimes, we requested his permission to interview this person the following day regarding the numerous other ‘cat burglar’ offences that had been committed in the Kareela area over a period of time.
This permission was given to us without any enthusiasm at all on his part.
After receiving this permission John and I visited the offender in the cells of the Sutherland Police Station and told him that we would be speaking to him the following day.
OFFENDER BARRICADED IN INTERVIEW ROOM-TEAR GAS USED TO EXTRICATE HIM
On the morning of Saturday 30th June, 1984 John and I travelled from the Crime Squad at Miranda to the Sutherland Police Station where the offender was removed from the cells, handcuffed in front and walked across the road to the Detectives office. In accordance with recognised practices for handling prisoners I took hold of this person by his trouser belt from behind.
As he was being ushered through the front door and into the Detectives office for our interview and immediately after having the handcuffs removed from him, he swung a punch at me that narrowly missed.
He then ran into a nearby inside interview room and barricaded himself in that room with the aid of an office desk. The outer door could only be opened fractionally as the offender had levered the desk in such a position to prevent the door from being opened fully from the outside.
About this same time, other members of the Regional Crime Squad had arrived at Sutherland Police Station to obtain petrol for their Police vehicle while en route to execute a Search Warrant on an address at nearby Sylvania.
These Police were from the Armed Hold Up Unit and consisted of the then Detective Sergeant Brian Harding in company with Detectives John Garvey, Steve Allen and Steve York.
One other purpose for their visit to the Sutherland Detectives office was to use their collective experience in an attempt to identify the then unknown individual who had taken to calling himself ‘Joe Pace’.
When the offender barricaded himself in the room, the assistance of these additional Regional Crime Squad Detectives, who were in the main office area at the time, was sought by those of us in the main Detectives office. A decision was made by Brian Harding, who was also a Field Commander with the Special Weapons and Operations Squad, to use the chemical irritant ‘Mace’ to effect the safe removal of the individual from the room.
This decision was based on several issues, not the least of which was the safety of the offender and the officers attempting to remove him from the room. Anyone with experience of Police interview rooms over the years would know that objects and articles accidentally left in there (such as bolt cutters, even typewriters) have the potential to be used as weapons.
Some of the members of the Regional Crime Squad were also part time members of the Special Weapons and Operations Squad, who, in addition to their day to day Crime Squad activities, were required to attend to siege or hostage situations.
To that end some of the Crime Squad vehicles were equipped with equipment such as the chemical irritant ‘Mace’ (or CS as it was known) for use in dangerous hostage or crowd control situations. The vehicle used by these additional members of the Crime Squad who came to our assistance was equipped with such equipment.
Detective Garvey sprayed the person Pace through the small opening of the door. This caused Pace to release his grip on the table and enable those of us outside the room to enter it and secure him. Once the person ‘Pace’ was outside the room a senior independent NCO, in accordance with Police Rules and instructions at the time, was then summoned to the Detectives office to speak to ‘Pace’ and remove any perceived inducement he may have had concerning the macing incident and in participating in interviews with us.
It was during this conversation with this senior NCO that his real identity as YM 1 was revealed. He was then interviewed by John and I for some hours during which he confessed to many so called ‘cat burglar’ crimes that he had committed in the Kareela area between July, 1983 and June 1984.
The fact that he refused to sign our interview did not perturb us greatly. This was a well-known ploy that experienced and hardened criminals used before the advent of taped interviews that were introduced to the NSW Police Force in early 1991. This tactic enabled them to ‘leave the gate open’ to make unfounded allegations against the interviewing Detectives when they later appear at Court in an attempt to beat the charges.
It was a game that many of them played. Some won at Court, most didn’t. It also did not concern us because YM 1 told us of many pertinent facts in that interview that only he could have known and which were later independently corroborated.
After the interview was completed YM 1 agreed to accompany John Davidson and me to the Kareela area. Standing at the side of a suburban Sydney street and wearing handcuffs he indicated the approximate area where he was arrested the night before in order to try and locate a balaclava he was wearing and had dropped in the early hours.
While I remained with YM 1 at the Police vehicle John entered the bushland and some time later returned with a fawn-coloured balaclava. This item was the subject of later allegations at Court that it had somehow been planted by us however the balaclava was later identified at the subsequent trial by several civilian witnesses as the one worn by YM 1 prior to his arrest.
After being interviewed by us YM 1 was returned to Sutherland Police Station where, after attending to necessary paperwork, he was returned to the cells and fingerprinted by uniform staff. He was later charged at his next Court appearance with a large number of breaking offences relating to the incidents in Kareela.
YM 1 @ ‘JOE PACE’-CRIMINAL ANTECEDENTS
The person YM 1 was an obnoxious bastard to deal with. He was egotistical, arrogant, but highly intelligent and cunning. In my dealings with him, I would also add ruthless to these descriptions.
Although claiming to be an English public schoolboy, later professing to have attended Geelong Grammar School, he told Police in Victoria that he associated with the rich, influential and famous and had cultivated pseudo snobbery. In fact he stated at one time that he used to drink with Police who had arrested him previously, likening the experience to former members of the Afrika Corps drinking with former members of the British Eighth Army.
This analogy, apart from being an insult to any returned soldier, is typical of his arrogance.
But YM 1 had another side to him as ‘The Cat’ or the ‘Toorak Cat’ with a lengthy criminal career both in New South Wales and in Victoria commencing there in 1958.
His main criminal convictions involved burglary and housebreaking, with 2 counts of possessing an unlicensed pistol. His second recorded criminal offence on his Victorian Police Docket Sheet involves housebreaking, larceny and indecent assault on a female less than 16 years.
During these burglaries, YM 1 literally terrorised the affluent Melbourne suburb of Toorak in the early 1970’s by undertaking ‘cat burglary’ offences. He claimed to Police at the time to have committed between 800 and 1,000 burglaries on members of the Jewish community with the total amount of property stolen by him amounting to some $1 million. He later claimed to a journalist that he was “…Australia’s greatest cat burglar while…active”.
In these activities YM 1 equipped himself with an elaborate kit in the form of a bandolier consisting of a pencil torch, spare batteries, clothes pegs for pegging back curtains and blinds, a reel of cotton and a hook and cutting implements.
On some occasions he would strip completely naked and hose himself down to slide through toilet windows and after gaining entry would dress inside the house. Once inside he would plan his exit by leaving open a rear door, propped open with a cushion.
One interesting side issue which shows the thought he put into his work was that if YM 1 drove his car to any of these burglaries he would park it outside a 2 mile radius from the scene. He considered (probably correctly) that any roadblock put up by Police would be within a mile radius and he stood a better chance of escaping to his car on foot.
He also bragged that once inside a house, especially the bedroom he learned to tell by the breathing of the sleepers how long they had been asleep and how deep was their slumber!
At the time YM 1 told members of the Victorian C.I.B. that he gained a great deal of satisfaction out of causing the Victorian Police embarrassment over these ‘cat burglar’ robberies due to an incident where he allegedly received some summary justice from the Police themselves for what he had done. His reasoning for this personal satisfaction gives an insight into the type of individual he was.
In this incident in 1959, he broke into a hospital in St Kilda and in the course of this offence, he placed his penis into a sleeping baby’s mouth. The child’s natural instinct was to suck and as a result of this action YM 1 ejaculated into the baby’s mouth with this action nearly causing the child to choke. YM 1 was then disturbed by a night sister and ran from the scene. He was later identified by virtue of his fingerprints and arrested by Police at St.Kilda.
After his arrest, he claimed to have received such a ‘hard time’ by the Police from St.Kilda that he swore vengeance against the Police, which supposedly commenced his career as a ‘cat burglar’. Naturally, the Police are yet again to blame for YM 1’s criminal career, not him!
Regarding this incident he was charged with housebreaking with intent, larceny in dwelling and indecent assault of female under 16. At Melbourne General Sessions Court he was placed on probation for 3 years and during this period he was to attend for psychiatric treatment.
At one stage a film of YM 1’s life called ‘Hot Property” was being considered by a Melbourne based production company. I can safely bet that the incident in the hospital at St.Kilda in 1959 would not even rate a mention and he would no doubt join the Ned Kelly’s, Ben Hall and Jockey Smith’s in life and be portrayed as another victim of so called ‘Police persecution’. Such is life!
Finally the Wood Royal Commission would have done themselves and everyone else a favour if they had bothered to read YM1’s criminal antecedent report prepared by Detective Sergeant Bert Gaudion in August 1973 where he stated that YM1 ‘……………is an extreme egotist and a cunning liar who is not beyond supplying false antecedent particulars for the express purpose of using them later at Court proceedings should it suit his purpose”
This information would not have suited the Royal Commission, given that they were hell bent on prosecuting us.
COURT APPEARANCES AND TRIAL
YM 1 was indicted, after his committal at Sutherland Local Court in late 1984, to the Liverpool District Court on the following charges: 61 charges of breaking, entering and stealing, 2 of larceny in a dwelling, 1 of being in a dwelling house at night with intent to steal, 7 of attempting to break and enter with intent to steal, 9 charges of larceny of a motor vehicle, 1 charge of possessing housebreaking implements and 1 charge of assaulting a Police Officer.
This last charge referred to the attempted punch that he threw at me while being escorted to the Detectives Office at Sutherland on the morning of the 30th June, 1984.
Included among these charges were the several original charges preferred against YM 1 by the Sutherland Detectives on the day of his arrest.
The trial commenced on the 17th April, 1985 before His Honour Judge Harvey Cooper and the jury retired to consider its verdict on the 12th June, 1985. After a 2 day deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of ‘Guilty’ in respect to all charges except for 3.
The trial was hard fought with numerous malicious allegations flying against us. The main allegation levelled was that YM 1 had been improperly maced by Detective Garvey in the interview room and that YM 1 had his fingerprints illegally taken in the Detectives Office immediately afterwards by a Sutherland uniform Police officer. It was also alleged that Detective Davidson and I had fabricated the record of interview and that the finding of the balaclava at Kareela on that same day was another fabrication by us.
These allegations were raised at the trial on both the voire dire and later cross-examination by YM 1’s defence counsel. Regardless of these allegations, the jury found YM 1 ‘guilty’ of the majority of the offences for which he had been initially charged, including the assault upon me.
SENTENCING AND LATER THREATS BY YM 1
Upon his conviction for these offences, YM 1 was sentenced to 17 years penal servitude, with a non-parole period of 11 years.
YM 1 was not impressed with his conviction and sentence for these crimes. He expressed this in no uncertain terms to a newspaper reporter after he was sentenced, saying “If I can’t clear myself through the appeal courts I’ll make Attila the Hun look like the tooth fairy-blood will flow. I’ll use violence for the first time in my life to get square.”
As it turned out YM 1 did not have to resort to violence to extract revenge. The Justice system later provided him with a perfect means to exact revenge in the form of the future Wood Royal Commission.
LIFE AFTER YM 1
After YM 1, life at the Regional Crime Squad continued as normal, or as ‘normal’ as any Crime Squad could be, considering the type of work we did.
From a personal point of view I was soon engaged in the investigation of other, more serious crime such as the arrest and prosecution of members of the Comanchero and Bandido bikie gangs for their involvement in the Milperra Massacre where 7 people were killed and 21 wounded and the issue of the Kareela Cat Burglar was soon relegated to the ‘war story’ area of my mind.
After the District Court trial an Internal Affairs enquiry was launched in 1985 following a complaint by YM 1 that he had been illegally maced by us and that the record of interview that he had participated in had been fabricated, that is, he had been verballed.
The allegations against us were fully investigated by Internal Affairs with almost all officers involved in the YM 1 investigation being interviewed and negating the allegations put forward by YM 1. The result of the Internal Affairs investigation was forwarded to the State Ombudsman and nothing more was heard.
In 1988, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal reviewed YM1’s 1985 trial and the resultant conviction and the Court dismissed this appeal.
Both John Davidson and I were honourably discharged from the Police Force in the early 1990’s with the Detective Sergeant from Sutherland who had been in charge of the Police operation that resulted in YM 1’s arrest being invalided out of the Police with a stress complaint in 1988.
Other members of the Regional Crime Squad including Brian Harding, John Garvey, Steve Allen and Steve York continued in the Police Force with Harding and Garvey deservedly attaining senior Commissioned officer rank rising to Detective Chief Superintendent and Detective Superintendent respectively.
Sadly for Brian and John, two of the NSW Police most illustrious and brilliant Detectives, they lost this rank in 1996 after their own Royal Commission appearance in June of that year, being dismissed from the Police Force as a result of the fabricated evidence put forward by the Wood Royal Commission over the investigation into the Kareela Cat Burglar incident, by the then ‘Loss of Commissioners Confidence’ provisions.
The Royal Commission considered these draconian provisions ‘essential’ for the Police Commissioner to have the power to dismiss an officer in whom confidence had been lost.
In the words of Justice Wood the loss of Commissioners Confidence “was intended (to) occur only after appropriate investigation in which an officer had a fair chance to be heard”. It was designed to circumvent the usual Industrial Relations unfair dismissal laws.
Unfortunately when they were dismissed in 1996 the only persons who knew that the evidence used as a basis to dismiss these officers was fabricated were the officers of the Wood Royal Commission and that discovery did not come about until our committal proceedings in 2000.
END OF PART ONE.