Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates

Ex-police commissioner questions document shredding relating to Heiner Affair

A FORMER Queensland police commissioner has questioned the legality of the shredding of documents at the centre of the Heiner Affair while making scathing comments on the professionalism of police investigating an alleged rape.
Noel Newnham, appointed commissioner after the Fitzgerald Inquiry in 1989 now retired, has made the comments this morning while on the stand at the Carmody Inquiry into child protection.
The alleged rape of the 14-year-old girl is at the centre of the Heiner Affair - a quarter-century old controversy alleging high level cover-up of sexual abuse at the old John Oxley Youth Detention Centre.
Mr Newnham said he believed the 14-year-old John Oxley resident was pressured into having sex with two teenage male residents during an outing to the Mount Barney National Park in 1988.
Under cross examination from John Selfridge, for the State of Queensland, Mr Newnham said he believed the girl was "subjected" to sexual intercourse.
"What do you mean by subjected?' asked Mr Selfridge.
"I have tried to avoid the emotive expression of rape,' Mr Newnham said.
"Because, on the file, it appears there was sexual intercourse between her and two of those boys at a time when she was under pressure."
Mr Selfridge asked if he met psychological pressure.
"Something like that, yes."
Mr Newnham said the girl was medically examined some days after the incident and the doctor reported that, "superficially,' she did not appear perturbed by the incident.
But he said the police had a duty to investigate thoroughly yet failed to do so.
"I would have tried to obtain a detailed statement from her,' he said.
The inquiry has heard the girl refused to make an official complaint but Mr Newnham said police should have persisted.
"I would have persisted in trying to obtain a statement from her," he said.
Mr Newnham said police appeared to accepted a decision from a child not to complain about an act which she had no lawful right to consent to in the first place.
"They did not take the first step of obtaining a statement detailing the events, although there had been a report of a serious offence and although there appears to have been witnesses to it."
Mr Newnham said he did not know why police failed to do their jobs property.
"Whatever the reason they had for not conducting what I would call a thorough investigation I don't know."
Whistle blower Kevin Lindeberg has been for a quarter of a century at the forefront of the "Heiner Affair" - a theory maintaining child sexual abuse at the John Oxley was deliberately covered up by a succession of Queensland governments.
The old National Party Government led by Premier Russell Cooper set up the Heiner Inquiry in 1989 following accusations of mismanagement at the John Oxley.
Former magistrate Noel Heiner led the inquiry and heard evidence recorded on tapes and on paper which was all shredded when the Goss Labor Government was elected.
Crown Law advised the material should be shredded in March 1990 because the Heiner Inquiry was improperly constituted and could lead to defamation actions.
Mr Newnham said the decision to shred was unlawful and resulted from a misinterpretation of the relevant section of law.
He said the government did not attempt to correct the mistake by attempting to find out what was contained in the shredded documents.
The inquiry continues.

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