Auckland cop charged with destroying own blood samples

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Jul 2022, 3:54pm
Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

Auckland cop charged with destroying own blood samples

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Jul 2022, 3:54pm

An Auckland police officer has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice after allegedly sneaking into a station to destroy his own evidential blood samples.

The officer has been stood down from duties after what a top Auckland cop has described as a serious incident at a North Shore station.

The police officer, 33, who appeared in the Waitākere District Court today, is charged with illegally entering a police station and attempting to pervert the course of justice by destroying evidential blood samples taken from him.

He also faces a charge of driving while forbidden to drive.

Court documents show the blood samples were taken from the officer on Sunday - the same day police claim he snuck into the Harbour Bridge station to allegedly destroy the evidence against him.

The charge of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice has a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment, while entering the Northcote Pt police base with intent to commit an imprisonable offence carries the possibility of up to 10 years in prison.

Driving while forbidden has a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine.

The officer did not enter a plea on the three charges and was remanded on bail ahead of his next appearance in a month's time in the same court.

He was not initially granted name suppression when he appeared before a registrar, represented by duty lawyer George Burns.

When Burns realised the Herald was making inquiries, he asked for the matter to be recalled. The officer was then granted interim name suppression.

A police prosecutor in court said police were neutral on whether suppression was to be granted.

Arguments for and against suppression will be heard at his next appearance, when he is expected to be represented by a Police Association-nominated lawyer.

The officer was at home with his young family in West Auckland when approached by the Herald. He declined to comment.

Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan said police "take the conduct of our people incredibly seriously" and a thorough investigation is under way.

As part of standard procedure police have notified the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Instances of cops allegedly drink driving are rare - but not unheard of.

The most well-known case involved the previous Police Commissioner Mike Bush, succeeded by Andrew Coster in 2020.

In 2017, Bush admitted his historical drink driving conviction after inquiries from media.

He was caught while off-duty in Auckland in 1983.

At the time, he was aged 23 and held the rank of detective constable.

Bush pre-empted media coverage of the revelation by admitting the historical conviction in a weekly blog.

"I didn't lose my job at the time because it wasn't until 1991- eight years after it happened - that the then Commissioner of Police made it clear that subsequent drink-drive convictions for a police officer could place their career in jeopardy," the blog said.

"It was extremely poor judgment by me 34 years ago, for which I am sorry. I make no excuses. It is something I deeply regret and have reflected on ever since."

He said his name and occupation were reported in an Auckland newspaper at the time, as was commonplace when media reported much more widely on the courts, including minor charges.

More recently, police launched an employment investigation after an off-duty officer was caught driving in Auckland in 2020.

He was fined and disqualified from driving for six months but resigned before the police could finish their employment inquiry.

The following year, Bay of Plenty constable Andrew Rush was convicted for crashing a police car while drink driving on duty.

His breath alcohol reading was 1204 micrograms per litre, almost five times the adult legal limit of 250mcg.

He apologised to the public and his colleagues in a statement supplied by his lawyer.

"He has been suffering from a post-traumatic stress injury which rapidly developed into
severe depression and alcoholism," the statement said.

"Andrew is deeply regretful for what he has done and immediately accepted
responsibility for his actions."

Police professional conduct statistics show that in the year to April 2022, there have been 30 allegations of traffic offences by police.

They included allegations relating to driving behaviour (15), inappropriate pursuits (6) excessive speed (4), use of vehicle (4) and other traffic offences (1).

Nineteen of the allegations have been investigated and of those, just one was upheld.

- Jared Savage and George Block, NZ Herald