Despite facing a potential life sentence for the offense, the senior-constable — who was charged by colleagues at his own station — was never arrested. Instead he was handed a court attendance notice instructing him to appear at Goulburn Local Court on June 18.
The 40-year-old, attached to the southern region, was charged with aggravated sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10 years and assault occasioning actual harm. The complaint was made in October over offences that allegedly occurred earlier last year.
The policeman’s colleagues chose to issue a future court attendance notice with strict conditions, including an apprehended violence order protecting his alleged victim, despite the offenses carrying maximum penalties of life imprisonment and five years in jail respectively.
He continued to work as a police officer while under investigation and was only formally suspended, with pay, at 5pm yesterday.
Police Minister Mike Gallacher last night said he would “be making formal inquiries with the Commissioner (Andrew Scipione) to ascertain the full facts relating to this matter”.
Child protection advocacy group Bravehearts founder and CEO Hetty Johnston said she was concerned by the police court notice process.
“These are two serious charges against a child and this person should not be released. If there’s a legality that has allowed this person to be freed, it must be changed,” Ms Johnston said.
A NSW police spokeswoman said the decision to issue the court attendance notice instead of arresting the officer came after advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions that there was “sufficient evidence to lay charges”.
“An interim apprehended violence order is in place for the protection of the alleged victims and witnesses,” she said. “There is no automatic presumption against bail.”
The spokeswoman said investigators considered it appropriate to issue the court notice, as was allowed under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act.
Police also defended the four days it took to publicly release information about the charge — at 9.07pm on Monday. “As per NSW Police protocol, a media release was issued once the appropriate approval processes were completed,” she said.
In January it emerged one in 40 serving officers in NSW had committed an offence, with 437 serving officers having criminal convictions. Ten police officers have been charged in the past month. On March 28, a 29-year-old senior-constable was charged with aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault of two other officers between 2011 and 2012 at a city police station.
The police spokeswoman said no police officer was “exempt from the law”.
NSW POLICE RAP SHEET OF SHAME
April 20: Constable charged with low range drink driving at Tempe. Will appear at Balmain Local Court on May 14.
April 18: Constable charged after running red light and involved in police pursuit at Eastwood. Charged with police pursuit under Skye’s Law and two counts of not stopping at red light. Will appear at Burwood Local Court on June 4.
April 17: Senior constable charged with aggravated sexual intercourse with child under 10 and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in Southern Region. Will appear at Goulburn Local Court on June 18.
April 11: Constable charged with common assault and police officer take detrimental action for reprisal. Will appear at Newtown Local Court on May 27.
April 11: Senior constable charged with make false official instrument to pervert course of justice, allegedly creating a false record. Will appear at Maitland Local Court on May 19.
April 2: Police officer attached to specialist command charged with making threats over the telephone against a private business. Charged 38-year-old constable with using carriage service to threaten serious harm. Will appear at Downing Centre Local Court on April 23.
April 1: Senior constable charged with low-range drink driving at Glebe. Will appear at Balmain Local Court on April 30.
March 28: A 29-year-old senior constable charged with aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault of two other officers between December 2011 and April 2013. Will appear at Downing Centre Local Court on April 29.
March 27: A 47-year-old constable charged with intimidation after domestic-related incidents. Will appear at Port Macquarie Local Court on April 24.
March 24: At 10pm, senior constable driving Toyota RAV-4 charged with mid-range drink driving after registering a 0.102 reading. Later charged with assaulting police and resisting police. Will appear at Orange Local Court on April 24.