The High Court’s decision to stay prosecution of 21 alleged serious organised criminals is disproportionate and unjustified, and the public will be the real losers from the decision, Police Association President Greg O’Connor said today.
The High Court made its ruling because Police had arrested and charged in Court one of its own undercover operatives, in a ruse to strengthen his background cover story amongst the gang members.
“Police acted in good faith when taking these measures to protect the agent’s life, and acted with the knowledge and agreement of the then-Chief District Court Judge, Russell Johnson, in doing so. This included following his advice not to inform the local Nelson District Court of the ruse. To have the Court now effectively change its mind is a slap in the face for the agent who put his life on the line for over a year,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Organised crime is serious business. It is a business which its perpetrators may kill to protect. The subterfuge in building a criminal record for the undercover operative was necessary to reduce the very real risk to his life.”
The decision to stay proceedings against the 21 members and associates of the Hells Angels feeder gang, the Red Devils, was also disproportionate and unjustified, Mr O’Connor said.
“The fact the agent had an artificially constructed back-story did not cause, encourage or enable anyone to offend. They were allegedly doing that anyway. All it did was allow the undercover agent to move in their circles more safely in order to gather evidence. It is unjustified and disproportionate to throw out the charges against alleged serious organised criminals solely because the High Court now takes offence at the subterfuge involved in constructing a credible cover story for the undercover agent.
“In the High Court’s rush to punish Police, they are really punishing the public, who will now see 21 individuals escape trial for alleged serious organised criminal offending, and be left free to carry on their activities. The Red Devils gang will be empowered by this decision and the good people of Nelson will now have to put up with the consequences,” Mr O’Connor said.