Private prosecution brought against police constable

Photo / File
Photo / File

A charge against a Whanganui police constable of conspiring to pervert the course of justice was dismissed by Judge Philip Crayton yesterday (on Monday).

The charge was brought by a member of the public, Jacobus "Jack" van der Lubbe, against a police officer who has permanent name suppression.

It was heard in a judge-alone trial, at van der Lubbe's request, and took up nearly three hours in Whanganui District Court yesterday afternoon.

van der Lubbe charged the constable with conspiring with other officers to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice.

The charge relates to an incident on September 10, 2013, when the right rear tyre of his car was stabbed or punctured while it was parked at the Aramoho shopping centre.

van der Lubbe presented many pages of evidence, dating back to the 1980s. He also presented DVDs and voice recordings.

He alleges the New Zealand police have denied himself and his family justice for 25 years, and that the constable in question was "continuing the pattern" or "following orders".

Judge Crayton went through the evidence piece by piece, in detail, and said he was giving van der Lubbe a lot of leeway.

On that day in September van der Lubbe went into a shop to buy a Lotto ticket. He parked his car in front of Anthony Hanna's homekill butchery business.

Coming out of the shop, he saw Hanna walking past his car. When he started the car he found one of the rear tyres had been punctured.

He concluded Hanna had stabbed it with a butcher knife, because he had a past history with him. He challenged Hanna, who denied it, then came out to look at the puncture mark.

van der Lubbe then called police, and was asked to talk to shop owners before they arrived, to see if anyone had seen anything. When the constable arrived he talked to van der Lubbe for about half an hour, and also talked to shop owners.

He told van der Lubbe he had some evidence but would need CCTV footage to make a prosecution.

van der Lubbe wanted him to arrest Hanna immediately.

"Police officers have to have more than just somebody's gut feeling," Judge Crayton said.

The constable went on to interview Hanna the next day, inquire about forensic examination of butcher knives and search for a woman parked next to van der Lubbe.

There was no CCTV evidence, and he and a superior decided a charge would be unsuccessful.

van der Lubbe decided to lay the charge himself, but presented the wrong document to Hanna, concluded that was a "bad omen" and didn't pursue the matter.

He told Judge Crayton he listened to police radio a lot, and heard one officer tell the constable to be careful in dealing with him. He also presented evidence from "dash cam" of Hanna allegedly intimidating him - standing and looking at him.

Judge Crayton said the constable had done everything possible to find enough evidence to charge Hanna. There was no evidence he had tried to pervert the course of justice, and also no evidence he had agreed with someone else to do so.

van der Lubbe said he would not have brought the prosecution if Hanna had been charged. But Judge Crayton said without more direct evidence the case was doomed to failure.

The constable was given permanent name suppression, to avoid effects on him, his family, his work and his fellow workers.

The lawyer for the police, Susan Hughes, said the matter was flawed at every term.

"The court shouldn't be concerned any further, and nor should the constable."

- NZ Herald

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