Not too long ago, a former NSW police officer found himself facing a magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court after he failed to charge a female suspect.
The officer, 32-year-old Christopher William Dove, was charged with misconduct in public office when he not only failed to charge a woman for drink driving, but then tried to kiss her.
Dove was working alone without a paddy wagon on Melbourne Cup night in Sydney, when he pulled over the attractive 26-year-old female driver for a random breath test. Although she failed two breath tests, Dove did not take her back to a police station to undergo a breath analysis as required. Instead, he drove the suspended drink-driver home.
Dove claimed that this was because he didn’t have a police car to take the woman to the station, and that no-one answered when he called the police station for assistance. He then decided to drive her home.
Although originally pleading not guilty to ‘misconduct in public office’ and ‘neglect of duty’, he ultimately agreed to plead guilty to the lesser offence of neglect of duty on the condition that the more serious charge was withdrawn.
Section 201 of the Police Act 1990 makes it an offence for a police officer to “neglect or refuse to obey any lawful order or carry out any lawful duty as a police officer.” The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200.
The officer’s criminal defence lawyer told the court that his client did not treat the female leniently “for the purpose of making sexual advances towards her”, but that the advances just happened.
The Magistrate ultimately allowed the officer to walk away without a criminal conviction against his name by awarding him a ‘section 10’ – which means no conviction and no fine. The officer has since gone to Melbourne to start a career as a personal trainer.
Dove’s superior was also charged over the incident, but he pleaded not guilty and beat the charge. 40-year-old Senior Constable Robert Anthony Simpson was charged with neglect of duty for allowing his junior officer to act out of line. But the charge against him was summarily dismissed and the Magistrate also ordered police to pay the officer $13,000 in legal costs.
Dove and Simpson are by no means the only officers to come before Downing Centre Court on the wrong side of the law in recent times.
Earlier this month, officer Antonio Saffioti appeared in Downing Centre District Court charged with pushing over and injuring an elderly man in a supermarket.
The allegation was that 73-year-old Leonard Batholomuesz accidently bumped into Saffioti who then pushed the od man to the ground, causing him to suffer a fractured leg and dislocated shoulder.
The court heard that Batholomuesz was a regular at the Sydney Town Hall Woolworths where he would buy lollies and share them with staff members.
The old man died from a heart attack six days after the incident.
Saffioti was charged with ‘recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm’ and ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’. The evidence against him included an eye-witness and some CCTV footage.
The jury found Saffioti not guilty of both charges.