A former cop was not constructively dismissed from the police after testifying against four officers accused of repeatedly bashing and pepper spraying a man in custody, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Daniel Sean Ramkissoon, then a police officer at the Whakatāne police station, gave evidence at the 2008 trial of Sergeants Keith Parson and Erle Busby, Senior Constable Bruce Laing and Constable John Mills.

The four officers allegedly assaulted Rawiri Falwasser, who said he was repeatedly beaten with batons and pepper sprayed while in custody in 2006.

Ramkissoon, a former detective inspector in the South African police, witnessed part of an incident in the Whakatāne station's cells.


The four officers were acquitted and the prosecution and acquittal divided the station.

Ramkissoon, who had worked in Whakatāne since 2000, said he felt under pressure from senior officers, some of whom appeared to blame him for the failure of the prosecution.

He later told the Employment Court in November 2013, during his three personal grievance claims against the Police Commissioner, that the incident was a turning point in his relationship with the police.

Ramkissoon's first claim stemmed from his application for the vacant station's sergeant position at the Ōpōtiki station in February 2009.

Ramkissoon held the rank of constable but was told it would not be an impediment.

An appointment panel recommended him and a formal offer was made, but he was then told by human resources the offer was a mistake and he didn't hold the necessary qualifications.

Following an employment review, the offer was cancelled and the position re-advertised.

Ramkissoon was accused by senior management of making misrepresentations and misleading the panel, accusations which the Employment Court found were unjustified.


He said the false allegations impugning his integrity were "crippling" and "unbearable".

He became unwell due to stress and took sick leave from late June 2009.

Senior Constable Bruce Laing, Constable John Mills, Sergeant Erle Busby and Sergeant Keith Parsons in the dock during the 2008 trial. Photo / NZ Herald
Senior Constable Bruce Laing, Constable John Mills, Sergeant Erle Busby and Sergeant Keith Parsons in the dock during the 2008 trial. Photo / NZ Herald

The second grievance claim was for the way Ramkissoon was treated by the police when he became ill following the non-appointment.

In July 2009 he was referred to a psychologist and followed a series of agreed rehabilitation plans to address his health issues and manage his return to work.

When he returned to work later in the month, Ramkissoon first worked on day shift with a burglary/property squad and then with the criminal investigation branch general squad.

He enjoyed the work and his health improved, however, according to his evidence, the progress he made was undermined by the area commander attempting to force him back to frontline duties and shift work.

Ramkissoon said this eventually caused him to relapse into "the darkness of depression" in December 2010.

He went back on extended sick leave and was then, he claimed, subjected to a series of unreasonable actions in the guise of rehabilitation which became "grossly overwhelming and destructive to [his] hopes of recovering".

In February 2011, Ramkissoon's lawyer submitted the second personal grievance and wrote to the area commander that management had breached the police rehabilitation policy, and its conduct towards Ramkissoon was heavy handed and intimidating.

Ramkissoon did not resume work until March 2011 when he was made to undertake what he considered demeaning work in a noisy typists' office.

He said he was unable to cope mentally and psychologically and went back on sick leave in April 2011.

Ramkissoon then medically disengaged from the police force and raised a third personal grievance, alleging he had been constructively dismissed.

The three personal grievances were heard in the Employment Court by Chief Judge Graeme Colgan.

In the judgment, delivered last July, Judge Colgan upheld the first personal grievance for the non-appointment and awarded Ramkissoon $30,000.

However, he rejected the rehabilitation grievance and further found the termination of Ramkissoon's employment amounted to a resignation, not a constructive dismissal.

Ramkissoon, however, was unsatisfied with the result and appealed to the Court of Appeal before a hearing was held in May.

Today, the court said Judge Colgan had not erred in his ruling.

"The delay of three and a half years to deliver the judgment is unacceptable and we can understand why Mr Ramkissoon may have difficulty accepting findings made such a long time after the case was heard," Justices Christine French, Brendon Brown and Murray Gilbert said.

"However, following a careful review of the pleadings, all of the evidence and not just selected passages, as well as the parties' submissions in the Employment Court, we are satisfied the judge has not erred."

The court said even if the Ōpōtiki non-appointment events should have been viewed as more than background, it would not have made any difference to the outcome.

"Mr Ramkissoon had signed a rehabilitation plan which initially had him returning to frontline duties in four to six weeks, was working to full capacity, was seeking other jobs and stating there was no need for the rehabilitation to continue," the judges said.