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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Investigation into allegations against Detective Inspector Kevin Burke concluded

21 April 2020

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has completed its investigation into two complaints of sexual misconduct against Detective Inspector Kevin Burke (DI Burke) in the early 2000s.

It has found insufficient cogent evidence to conclude that DI Burke sexually assaulted either Ms X or Ms Y. However, the Authority did conclude that some aspects of his conduct represented poor judgment; or were wrong in principle, despite meeting the acceptable professional standards of the time.

In April 2017, Ms X complained to the Authority that DI Burke had sexually harassed her in 2003. Further enquiries established that her complaint amounted to allegations of sexual offending. Police launched a criminal investigation. In November 2017, Ms Y complained to Police that DI Burke had sexually assaulted her in January 2002. Police also investigated this complaint.

In February 2019, DI Burke stood trial in the Auckland High Court on charges of indecent assault and sexual violation. He was acquitted of all charges. A series of suppression orders were made by the High Court relating to the complainants' identities and other matters.

The Authority conducted an independent investigation into Ms X's and Ms Y's complaints. This investigation considered DI Burke's wider conduct during his contact with Ms X and Ms Y, as well as both complainants' allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

The Authority applied the professional policies and standards in place in the early 2000s and assessed evidence on a 'balance of probabilities' standard of proof.

The Authority's investigation took considerable time, in part due to the need to await the outcome of the criminal trial. The Authority interviewed the complainants and a support person, DI Burke and some of his former colleagues. The Authority also reviewed the evidence produced by Police's investigation into Ms X's and Ms Y's complaints, and transcripts of the evidence given at court during the criminal trial.

The Authority will not be publicly reporting on its investigation or findings, beyond this media statement. This is because the Authority has concluded that it would be impossible to fully address the complaints raised and explain the rationale behind its findings without breaching the suppression orders put in place by the High Court. Instead, the Authority has written to the complainants, DI Burke and the Commissioner of Police setting out its findings and rationale in full.

In summary, the Authority found, on the balance of probabilities:

  • There was not sufficient cogent evidence to conclude that DI Burke sexually assaulted either complainant.
  • Some of DI Burke's admitted actions towards Ms Y showed poor judgement and breached the Police Regulations 1992.
  • DI Burke's interactions towards Ms X were complex and took place over a number of years. DI Burke first met her when she was a victim of crime, and vulnerable. Some of DI Burke's conduct towards Ms X was in line with 'good' investigative practice at the time, although in principle it was inappropriate.

Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty said:

"The complaints made, relating to criminal acts and professional misconduct, were extremely serious and required independent investigation by the Authority.

The Authority's investigation was lengthy and complex. When assessing evidence, the Authority was cognisant of the time elapsed since the alleged events and the recounting of those events to Police, then to the Authority and finally in Court. This affected the reliability of the evidence proffered. In some cases, the Authority could not make firm findings on the available evidence.

However, Detective Inspector Burke was an experienced and competent officer at the time of his contact with both complainants. Both complainants were vulnerable in their own way. The power imbalance between the parties was central to the Authority's assessment and the findings made."

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