The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer lied when giving evidence in court in defence of his brother.
On 12 May 2018 the officer's brother was involved in a physical altercation with his neighbours. The officer was off duty at the time and involved as a witness only, although he separated the parties. His brother was charged with assaulting two of the neighbours, a mother and son, and using threatening language. The brother pleaded guilty to assaulting the son but denied the charges of threatening him and assaulting his mother.
The officer elected to be a witness for the defence. He completed a written statement and gave evidence in court.
The matter was originally assigned to a Pukekohe Police Prosecutor. However, as the officer worked in the Pukekohe area, this was recognised as a conflict of interest and the matter was transferred to Manukau. The presiding Judge rejected the defence evidence and found that there was a clear attempt by the officer, and his brother's wife, to protect his brother by minimising his actions.
Based on its own investigation, the Authority found that the officer lied in his evidence to the Court to minimise his brother's behaviour and protect him. Additionally, he breached the Police conflict of interest policy by failing to adequately inform his supervisor of his involvement in the trial.
To avoid any perceived conflict of interest the Pukekohe Prosecutor should have transferred the file to Manukau earlier in the process, and it would have been good practice for him to have completed a conflict of interest form. Additionally, the Pukekohe Prosecutor's demeanour in dealing with the victims was at odds with the Police Prosecution Service statement of policy and practice.
"Our own independent assessment of the evidence drew us to the same conclusion as the Court as far as the officer's intentions to protect his brother were concerned.
The differences in accounts between witnesses are such that there is no way either party could simply be mistaken and we were drawn to the further conclusion that the officer lied to the Court in an attempt to protect his brother" said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.