5 Jun 2010

Protection guaranteed for police whistle-blowers

10:00 pm on 5 June 2010

Dunedin police say there are safeguards for whistle-blowers like the two constables whose testimony has helped to convict two colleagues of assaulting a man they'd arrested.

A jury in the Dunedin District Court on Friday found Duncan Hollebon and Brenton Rooney guilty of assault. They had kicked Daniel Wiel as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

The two constables, Johnathon Dunn and Lachlan McDonald, became emotional as they gave evidence earlier in the week.

They told the jury Hollebon kicked Mr Wiel's body three times and Rooney kicked his head once, as they arrested him in February last year.

Constable Dunn was tearful as he described his fear of getting his workmates in trouble, and Constable McDonald had difficulty telling the court that Hollebon and Rooney had taken him aside and told him Mr Wiel had injured himself in a motorcycle accident.

Case 'should give public confidence'

The southern district operations manager, Inspector Lane Todd, says there are protection measures for whistle-blowers.

"The police do have policies and procedures around dealing with these kinds of situations," he says, "when staff make disclosures in relation to behaviours that they may have observed."

Inspector Todd commended the actions of the two constables, and he says members of the public can feel confident officers who behave as Hollebon and Rooney did will be punished.

Having said that, he adds that in his experience the assault is an isolated incident.

Hollebon and Rooney, who have been suspended on full pay since the assault, were remanded on bail for sentencing on 16 July.

A police code of conduct employment process will be followed.