Acquitted officer back on duty

By Abigail Hartevelt of the Daily Post -
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the result of any disciplinary action was confidential. Photo / File
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the result of any disciplinary action was confidential. Photo / File

A police officer who was acquitted on a serious assault charge has returned to work.

Constable David Mear has returned to the Rotorua police after a District Court jury found him not guilty in March.

Mr Mear had been on trial after pleading not guilty to charges of wounding a man with intent to injure and assaulting him with a police torch.

The Crown alleged that about 3am on August 28, 2010, Harley Collier was stopped by police after a high-speed pursuit. The jury was told that another police officer saw Mr Mear hitting Mr Collier with a torch and putting his face on the ground.

Mr Collier suffered a fractured left eye socket and a cut to the head. Mr Mear denied the accusations and said the other police officer had lied.

Mr Mear had said that he smashed the passenger window of the car Mr Collier had been driving and that Mr Collier looked like he was "going" for a weapon. He said Mr Collier was trying to get away and it was extremely important to get him under control.

Mr Mear said he struck Mr Collier in a sideways motion with his torch at least twice, aiming for his hands. Mr Mear said he knew the torch made contact with Mr Collier but didn't know where.

Mr Mear's lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, criticised how long it took for police to investigate, the "inadequate" paperwork by senior police officers and the lack of forensic evidence. It took the jury just over an hour to find Mr Mear not guilty of both charges.

Mr Mear had been suspended on full pay since the start of the investigation in late 2010.

Following the trial, Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said there would be an internal employment process and the Independent Police Conduct Authority would also complete its investigation.

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne yesterday confirmed Mr Mear had returned to work and said it was standard practice to conduct an employment process when an officer was involved in any alleged offence or incident.

Mr Horne said the result of any disciplinary action was confidential.

Mr Horne said the authority was still carrying out a separate investigation into the incident and he was unable to say when the authority would complete its report.

"Police take issues concerning the integrity and professionalism of our staff extremely seriously and there are robust processes in place for dealing with situations when police officers are suspected of not meeting organisational standards. Those processes are subject to both internal review and scrutiny from independent external agencies, such as the Independent Police Conduct Authority."

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