NT policeman “could have committed offenses” in connection with the death of his partner, according to coroner
The Northern Territory Coroner reported the death of a woman involved in an allegedly abusive relationship with a duty officer to prosecutors and the Police Commissioner, and criticized the handling of several reports of domestic violence in the years leading up to his death.
On-duty NT police officer referred to Director of Public Prosecutions and Commissioner of Police
Coroner Greg Cavanagh has noted a number of ‘failures’ in the way police have dealt with domestic violence
He made four recommendations to the NT police
An investigation found that 17 reports of unrest and violence were made to NT police over five years before the woman, called HD, died of head injuries in March of last year.
In his findings on Tuesday, Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh noted a number of “failures” in the way NT police conducted their investigations and “procedural difficulties” that have prevented officers to recognize domestic violence and coercive control.
Coroner Cavanagh did not draw any conclusions as to the cause of the woman’s injuries, which the inquest found could have resulted from the fact that she was hit or fell and fell. banged his head.
During the inquest, counsel told the coroner there was evidence of a charge against the woman’s partner of not helping him after she injured herself.
The coroner said there was “a significant amount of evidence that HD’s partner had an angry temper,” and critical questions about the five days leading up to his death had not been answered.
He also criticized the inability of the police to set up a crime scene the night the woman died, and said the decision was likely affected by “similar considerations” behind the lack of action when reports violence or disturbance has been reported.
“Indeed, the word of a fellow police officer weighed more heavily than it should, and his death was considered an overdose,” said the coroner.
“In this case, there was also a history of domestic violence, including recent reports that were under investigation at the time. This should have made the police more careful.”
In his findings, the coroner described the circumstances of every report that was made to police prior to the woman’s death – only one resulted in a domestic violence order, which was made against HD rather than against her partner.
He said there were “red flags” for coercive control that should have led to further investigation and noted evidence that a supervisor described the officer involved as unstable.
The coroner noted that HD developed an addiction to alcohol after the traumatic loss of a pregnancy, after which she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said HD’s drinking was given by his partner as an explanation for some of his actions.
But said that couldn’t explain “manipulative and controlling” behavior like monitoring HD’s texts and social media accounts or constantly messaging while she was away.
“The supportive explanation also does not match the tone of the vast majority of messages from him to HD when she was drinking or not complying with his wishes,” the coroner said.
The coroner made four recommendations to change the way NT police handle cases of internal domestic violence, including that the deputy commissioner responsible for the domestic violence unit oversee all complaints involving officers.
He recommended that investigators have better access to relevant history, with a senior officer involved in the case telling the investigation that he had not been able to access key information about cases. earlier.
The coroner also said general police orders should be updated in line with contemporary understanding of domestic violence, including coercive control, which has yet to be criminalized in the NT.
The woman’s partner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a serving officer at the time of the investigation.
The coroner said domestic violence within the police force is seen as a significant problem compounded by officers appearing to “struggle to investigate their own members.”
He also noted evidence during the investigation of Assistant Commissioner Michael White, who said reports from other jurisdictions suggest rates of domestic violence are higher among police officers than among the general public.
The coroner said he commended the NT police for their handling of the investigation, including Assistant Commissioner White’s “willingness to objectively and critically analyze the evidence.”
In a statement, NT police said they were reviewing the coroner’s findings and declined to say whether any action had been taken in relation to the officer’s post.
“We have recognized areas for improvement in NT policing practices and procedures. We are committed to making the changes outlined in the coroner’s recommendations,” the spokesperson said.