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Bonkers Blog January 2013

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9 January - Chief Inspector Tony Gowen investigates

Site visitorsVisitor numbers since the New Year have risen noticeably and my suspicion is that crooked policemen have a wider appeal than crooked Bexley councillors. Today I am in danger of confusing new readers by including Chief Inspector Tony Gowen and malpractice in the same paragraph but not in the Peter Craske/obscene blog context. The reason being that the latter is not an isolated instance of very dodgy dealing.

Dave StringerFor today forget about Acting Superintendent Tony Gowen trying to fix the Craske situation at an unjustifiable meeting with Will Tuckley and transfer your attention to Chief Inspector Tony Gowen reinvestigating a crime where once again the principal object appears to be protecting one of their mates from the consequences of their actions. The last blog on that subject ended with the words "God help us” at the thought of Gowen investigating the errors of his colleagues.

Tony Gowen is the officer who couldn’t find the Detective Inspector who issued John Kerlen and me with a Harassment warning and refused to have it withdrawn on the grounds that Will Tuckley had reported us for the Pitchforks and Flaming Torches comment we didn’t make and his word must prevail over us plebs. Fortunately the IPCC saw things differently.

A quick prequel of today’s blog is ‘teenage boy receives life changing injuries due to an attack from behind made under the gaze of a CCTV camera and half a dozen witnesses. Police back track on the investigation when they realise the attacker is the son of a police friend. Evidence turned on its head and statements rewritten so that the victim becomes the attacker thereby ensuring that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is not interested. It requires a judge to expose the dishonesty which has become the hallmark of Bexleyheath police’. The full story is available here and it features not only Tony Gowen, but his then boss Dave Stringer (pictured), the former CID chief Alison Funnell, famed for contaminating evidence in the Stephen Lawrence case, and numerous CID officers including Steve Underwood mentioned only yesterday for his confusing message about the CPS.

The schoolboy’s father continues his report…

Bexley Police had “messed up” their first investigation of a serious assault, according to Chief Inspector CI1 and the incident would now be “reinvestigated from scratch by a different team”. This different team ended up being the same Inspector DI2 who had been “satisfied” with the first investigation and made false claims about our son ‘striking the first blow’, the Detective Sergeant DS2 who until recently was supervising the obscene blog investigation and regular Constable PC2 (a personal friend of the officer PC1 who “messed up” the first investigation and whose family shared close friends with the attacker’s family).

On meeting us, CI1 quickly promised that he would be “pushing for prosecution”. We were uncomfortable with this apparently premature judgment, as CI1 seemed to know little about the case and to be unaware of the existence of much of the evidence, but perhaps that’s how Bexley Police usually operates.

We gave CI1 a list of our main concerns about the first investigation (see below), but it later appeared that Police did not address these concerns at all in their reinvestigation:

• In the first investigation, our son’s statement was taken in dubious circumstances (see previous posts), and we were concerned that it might be inaccurate. The reinvestigation team re-interviewed our son and he gave them further important information; but although Police took new statements from every other witness, they made no record at all of our son’s re-interview in their reports. DI2 had previously confirmed what was noted in the crime report - that a further victim statement was required as a “priority action” - but now CI1 and PC2 informed us that they did not want our son to make a new statement at all. We were alarmed when CI1 then told us that our son’s original statement was the same as the attacker’s statement, and we gave him a list of several vital differences between our son’s account and the attacker’s statement. We were told that DS2 would phone us back about our concerns, but he never did. We asked if our son could see his statement to check whether it was accurate, but CI1 told us that this was not legally possible (despite him later denying that our son had ever been prevented from seeing his statement). In the end, PC2 reworded our son’s statement on her report to the CPS, showing some important details incorrectly (e.g. stating that our son had claimed he had pushed the attacker off the bench, rather than the other way round) and cutting out other important details entirely (e.g. his claim, supported by medical and eye-witness evidence, that he had been attacked from behind).

• Several of the witness statements were not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and again only three of the twelve available statements were noted as being provided after the reinvestigation. We had specifically highlighted the most reliable/CCTV-consistent witness statement, but no record whatsoever was made of this statement in PC2’s post-reinvestigation report to the CPS. In the original report, no note was made of the major contradictions in witness statements given by the attacker’s friends, and (despite requests from us) no such note was made after the re-investigation either. Police were required on the form to consider “witness assessment”, but no witness assessments were noted. CI1 later claimed that he would never challenge witness statements in any case, because he regarded them to be “objective facts”. (The alternative possibility - that the suspect’s friends might lie to help him get off - apparently never crossed CI1’s mind.)

• The attacker’s statement was not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and (despite requests from us) there is no note of it being submitted after the re-investigation either. PC2 had noted some of the attacker’s testimony on her report, but had omitted the most significant parts (including his aggressive swearing, the admission that he was motivated by anger, parts of his testimony that were inconsistent with the CCTV footage, his walking over a bench towards our son before coming down and attacking him, and his stranglehold on our son until he was pulled off by eye witnesses) – all of these self-incriminating details had been carefully sanitised out of PC2’s report.

• The medical report detailing the severity of our son’s injuries was not submitted to the CPS after the first investigation, and (despite requests from us) there is no note of it being provided after the re-investigation either.

• DI2 had originally told us that the quality of the CCTV footage was not a problem, as Police could improve it with enhancement software. However, no enhancement software was applied in the reinvestigation, and accordingly DI2 later claimed that the CCTV footage could not be used as evidence due to its “poor quality”.

We requested that the CPS be made aware of all the problems with the evidence from the first investigation, but this does not appear to have happened (despite the original investigating officer PC1 now being under investigation himself for gross misconduct in the case); and the CPS still ended up reporting that they had relied on PC1’s assurances in coming to their decision whether to prosecute (apparently in blissful ignorance of his links to the suspect and the fact that he had “messed up” the first investigation).

So if you were expecting that the Police’s ‘reinvestigation’ would now allow justice to prevail, don’t hold your breath… (more to come)

I can’t wait!

The complete story so far.

Note: The graph above rather unfairly contrasts the week after Christmas with the first week of the new year. Highest peak is 2nd January.


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