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The Police conclusion – “very unlikely”

The Police conclusion – “very unlikely” a sexual offence occurred

  1. Officer S decided that, because E was, in his view, unable to adequately particularise any element of an offence and because the father declined to be interviewed, the matter could not be proceeded with at that time.
  2. He also recorded in official police documents that he held the belief that “it is very unlikely that the offence did not occur”.[33] He explained during his evidence at the trial that this was an error: what he had intended to record was that it was “very unlikely that an offence did occur”.
  3. I find it very troubling that officer S was prepared to reach such a view – that is, to reach a positive conclusion that a five year old child had not been sexually abused – at that stage of the investigation. Whilst I suspect it is not uncommon for police officers to conclude that it is “very unlikely” that the evidence known to that officer at a particular point in time is such as to provide the basis for a successful criminal prosecution, that is, I think, a very different thing to positively concluding that it was very unlikely that an offence occurred.
  4. My concern is magnified when it is clear that such a conclusion is highly likely to be shared and permeate future investigations and any future consideration by others – such as the Department or subsequent police officers – of the complaint. Similar concerns exist about officer S’s apparent conclusion that E may have been coached by her mother. It does not seem to me that a parent telling a child to tell the truth or to tell everything to the police constitutes that parent coaching the child.
  5. Having regard to the contents of the first s 93A interview, the manner in which E spoke and acted whilst being interviewed and the mother’s own apparent limitations in retaining information and conveying the same clearly and consistently, I am not at all persuaded that E was coached by her mother to make the comments recorded within her interview.

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Maroochydore / Noosa / Caloundra / Kawana / Birtinya

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