Monday, June 10, 2002

Additional Reading: Drug squad police split $60,000, inquiry told

By Malcolm Brown July 10 2002

A group of drug squad officers shared $10,000 found during searches and another $50,000 that was paid to help the accused beat the charge, the Police Integrity Commission heard yesterday.

Peter Farmer, counsel assisting the commission, said the group included four officers each from the Gosford and North Sydney Drug Units who had searched homes in West Ryde and Newport on February 21, 1992.

When the money had been divided, two officers in the drug units who were not on duty that day had allegedly been included.

L17, the person accused of supplying the drugs had been told that if she objected to police taking the $10,000, she would be charged with having goods [the money] which were unlawfully obtained.

L17 agreed to the proposal and was not charged with having goods in custody. A gold ingot found at the Newport premises was returned to her.

Mr Farmer, in his opening address to the assistant commissioner, Tim Sage, said L17 had apparently admitted owning four kilograms of cannabis resin found at Newport. No police statement noted that admission.

L17 faced trial on the possession charge at Parramatta in 1995 and was acquitted.

Maurice Gilbert Nield, a former police officer who was in the North Sydney Drug Unit at the time, said he had no recollection of the $10,000 or the gold ingot, or sharing in any money.

Nor had he been aware of any culture of police sharing money found during drug searches.

Frank Ramaccia, who was a member of the North Sydney Drug Unit then, agreed that his duty book for the day referred to L17 admitting that he owned the drugs at Newport.

He could not explain why that admission, which was potentially very important, was not reflected in his statement.

Mr Farmer: Did you deliberately leave out the admission?"

Mr Ramaccia: "No. If I had wanted to do that, I would not have put it in my duty book."

Mr Ramaccia, who is still in the force, said he had not received any money from the investigation and denied an allegation that he had put $5000 under the seat of a car and signalled to another detective, M5, that there was something there for him.

A former officer, Ian Frederick Ison, who was seconded in 1992 to the Gosford Drug Unit, said there had been a debriefing before the search operation ended. It was probably given by the then head of the Gosford Drug Unit, Detective-Sergeant Wayne Eade.

Mr Ison denied receiving $1000, allegedly a share of the $10,000 seized during the raids, or $5000, allegedly a 10 per cent share of the money paid to help L17 beat the charge.

David Marshall Hill, a former police officer, denied having done anything related to "looking after" L17 and said he had done a proper investigation. He had presented evidence in support of a prosecution.

He had not taken part in an interview in which he had fabricated questions and answers to give L17 an acceptable excuse for having the drugs.

The defence in L17's trial had relied on a case that said that if someone was only the minder for drugs, they could not be deemed to be supplying it.

He agreed he had failed an integrity test in 2000 in which he had improperly received $300 but denied receiving any money in relation to the operation.

The hearing resumes today.

Additional Information:
"The Age newspaper 1982"  Mr Frank Ramaccia "Australian Customs Prevention Officer" - Mr Mark Standen - Mr Stephen Insley both narcotics agents NSW.