Cop Admits To Guessing Amount Of MDMA On Music Festival Patron
A NSW police officer has been accused of a 'sloppy' mistake which saw a Splendour In The Grass festival goer accused of possessing eight times the amount of MDMA they were actually found with.
The police officer, who was conducting drug searches at the music festival, has admitted to a "mistake" in paperwork which resulted in the punter being accused of possessing 3.18 grams of the drug in official records when they were initially recorded as being found with 0.4 grams.
It's alleged this mistake happened after NSW police reports referenced three separate people as having been linked to the same quantity of MDMA, as officers wrongly used the police exhibit number referring to the drug find on the three different reports.
The poor record-keeping from the 2018 festival has been slammed by the chief commissioner of Sydney’s Law Enforcement Conduct Commission as 'sloppy'.
The LECC returned on Wednesday for the third day of a hearing into NSW police strip searches at the Byron Bay music festival.
The hearing was sparked after a teenage girl who attended the festival accused a NSW police officer of a humiliating strip search. She was 16 years old at the time.
First in the witness box was a female senior constable, forbidden to be identified but known by the code name BR4, who carried out some drug searches at the event.
Counsel assisting the commission, Peggy Dwyer, asked the officer about arrest fact sheets that were produced by police at the festival, which recorded details of alleged criminal activity including drugs possession.
The officer detailed a system where police would either weigh drugs on a scale at the event or estimate the weight if the scales were not available, for initial field arrest forms.
The drugs would then be properly weighed back at a police station for official records. From there an official fact sheet is meant to be produced for the purposes of charging or prosecuting those found possessing drugs.
“Normally I would weigh it myself,” BR4 said, explaining that festivals were a more difficult environment to record details of drugs found due to the high volume of people and searches.
However, Dwyer flagged discrepancies in some Splendour 2018 paperwork completed by NSW police officers, which saw a punter allegedly initially recorded as being found with 0.4 grams of MDMA, but then recorded as being found with 3.18 grams in a fact sheet - nearly eight times as much as the initial report.
An official police exhibits system, known as EFIMS, also recorded the quantity in that case as 0.4 grams.
“There is nothing in the relevant documentation that suggests 3.18 grams ... can you explain how 3.18 got into the statement of facts?” Chief Commissioner Michael Adams QC the officer.
“I cannot,” BR4 replied.
“It is of vital importance in drug cases that the quantity is recorded ... and especially so in a document that goes to court,” Adams said.
BR4 denied copy and pasting sections of text between different reports, saying she “just made a mistake” in typing the paperwork.
Adams claimed it was “sloppy work from yourself”, saying there was a “pattern of, if not carelessness, inattention.”
“In the circumstances, when you’re doing all these charges, it’s easy to get muddled up,” the officer said in defence.
Dwyer also tabled evidence showing that three separate fact sheets for different Splendour punters which cited the exact same exhibit number, referring to the same drug.
This means police allegedly referenced the same seized drug in three separate cases.
“Why would the same exhibit number be the same in all three jobs?” Dwyer asked the officer.
“It’s a mistake,” BR4 replied.
"A mistake that can have serious consequences for someone going to court?” Dwyer asked, to which BR4 replied “yes”.
The hearing continues.