Police officer convicted of covering bashing granted appeal

A MACKAY police officer accused of helping to cover up the bashing of a woman at an Airlie Beach watchhouse in 2008 has had a small win in court on a technicality.

But Detective Senior Sergeant Anthony Lee, who oversaw the investigation into the police bashing of tourist Renee Toms in January 2008, will have to wait to see if he faces any disciplinary action over his role in the cover-up of the sordid affair.

Former officer Benjamin Price was found guilty in 2010 and sentenced to 27 months behind bars for assaulting many handcuffed tourists, including Ms Toms, in a case that made headlines across the country.

Det Snr Sgt Lee was tasked with investigating the initial allegations Ms Toms made against Price soon after the incident happened, but quickly became the focus of the then Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission over his handling of the investigation.

The CMC found he did not even interview Ms Toms or any witnesses other than his disgraced colleague during his investigation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Lee speaks to the media about a reward for information in the Shandee Blackburn murder case.
Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Lee speaks to the media about a reward for information in the Shandee Blackburn murder case. Lee Constable

The corruption watchdog's report said Det Snr Sgt Lee obtained the watchhouse CCTV footage of the assault on Ms Toms, but reported to his superior officer that the footage did not support the allegation and instead corroborated Price's version of events.

The CMC recommended in December 2012 that Det Snr Sgt Lee be charged with serious misconduct offences, but the Queensland Police Service ignored the recommendation.Instead, he chose to participate in an internal police Administrative Consensual Disciplinary Process in June 2013 to answer the allegations of fraudulent handling of the investigation.

But in a letter to his superiors revealed at the disciplinary hearing, Det Snr Sgt Lee told them he would not consent to the internal disciplinary process if it led to his demotion.

The ACDP imposed a fully suspended demotion on June 19, 2013; on the condition he did not commit any further misconduct in the 12 months following the order.Det Snr Sgt Lee then appealed the disciplinary process, claiming during a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in September this year that the "charge" against him was not properly defined because it did not set out the prescribed grounds of misconduct.

The detective, who enlisted the services of top barrister Peter Davis, argued the charge was essentially of "inadequacy of investigation" and that it did not encompass any more serious allegations.In his decision last month, tribunal member James Thomas agreed the misconduct charge was too broad and granted Det Snr Sgt Lee's appeal.

Mr Thomas ordered the matter be referred back to Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett, who represented the police service at the hearing, for reconsideration and further decision.It is not known if the police service will continue disciplinary action against Mr Lee.


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