A cunning lawyer has won the freedom of a man accused of impersonating a police officer with a replica badge wired into his wallet on a legal error.
A cunning lawyer has won the freedom of a man accused of impersonating a police officer with a replica badge wired into his wallet on a legal error.

'Fake cop' gets off on a technical error

A MAN who allegedly pretended to be a Tasmania Police officer - with a replica badge wired into his wallet - has walked free from court after a legal error.

Richard Norman Smith was charged with the crime of impersonating a police officer by carrying a badge resembling a police issue warrant card at Pontville during May 2016.

But when the matter came before the Hobart Magistrates Court earlier this year, defence lawyer Fabiano Cangelosi said the complaint should be struck out as it omitted an essential element of the crime.

Prosecutors tried to then amend the charge, but Magistrate Chris Webster said that could not be done - because the time period for laying or amending the charge had already expired.

In a newly-released decision, Mr Webster said the charge stipulated Mr Smith was not a police officer and that he carried the badge without lawful excuse.

He agree with Mr Cangelosi's argument the police complaint omitted an essential element - that the badge was carried without "the approval of the commissioner".

In dismissing the charge, Mr Webster said the charge Mr Smith faced was not an offence known to law, and it was now "incapable of amendment" "There is no offence of having in one's possession a police badge without lawful excuse. The offence is that of having a police badge in one's possession without lawful excuse or the approval of the Commissioner," he said.

Originally published as Police impersonator gets off on a legal error


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