NSW Lawyer Alleges Stalking And Intimidation By Strike Force Raptor

, NSW Lawyer Alleges Stalking And Intimidation By Strike Force Raptor

NSW Lawyer Alleges Stalking And Intimidation By Strike Force Raptor

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 to target “groups and individuals who engage in serious and organised crime, in particular those who have a propensity for violence,” the Police website said. They are known to crack down on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG), so why is it that a Solicitor from NSW is allegedly being targeted now? Greg Coombes, a lawyer in Grafton in the state’s north, was due to represent a client associated with the Gladiators bikie gang earlier this month when members of Strike Force Raptor allegedly began to follow him from his home.

THE STORY

It is reported that a NSW solicitor has called for an investigation into members of a high-level police taskforce targeting bikies after officers allegedly stalked and intimidated him.

Mr Coombes said he was considering whether to seek apprehended violence orders against the officers and charges against them for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He made a complaint to Local Police and a Magistrate hearing the bikie matter, he was also finalising a complaint to the independent Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

Mr Coombes said he first noticed a police vehicle driving slowly outside his home about 6.30am on May 28. “I actually waved to them because I have a fantastic relationship with local police,” Mr Coombes told the Herald.

However, the police car then parked near his house, in a quiet residential area, first in a neighbour’s driveway and then in a vacant lot, he said.

Mr Coombes claimed the car then followed him when he left in his own car, turned on its pursuit lights and pulled him over. Two officers introduced themselves as members of Strike Force Raptor, the organised crime squad dedicated to outlaw motorcycle gangs.

The officers said they intended to give him an infringement notice for failing to indicate when he reversed out of his driveway, Mr Coombes said. After he drove off, the police allegedly pulled him over again after a few blocks, this time saying they needed to inspect his vehicle for defects.

Mr Coombes said they told him the car would need to be towed but a later inspection found no repairs were required.

After walking home, Mr Coombes said he then saw the police car parked near his house in the vacant block. It allegedly followed Mr Coombes and his girlfriend when they took a taxi to his office. The police then confronted the taxi driver saying he had failed to indicate, he said.

Mr Coombes said the police hung about in the carpark near his office, prompting him to complain to Sergeant Adam Brown of Grafton Local Police. He said he requested an adjournment from the local magistrate, detailing the police actions in court, but they continued to hang about near his office until mid-afternoon.

The next day the same two officers were in a carpark to the rear of his office, where they left an excessive noise notice on his motorbike although it had been parked for about four hours, the lawyer said.

“It’s just not right,” Mr Coombes said. “If I deal with Raptor again I would like it to be on a fair playing field because I’m certainly not following them or their girlfriends.”

PERVERTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE

What is it?

Perverting the course of justice is an offence committed when a person prevents justice from being served on him/herself or on another party. Allegations involving perjury or perverting the course of justice are extremely serious and need an immediate and robust defence.

Some example of perverting the course of justice include;

  • Giving a false account of a crime to the police resulting in police wasting time in their investigations;
  • Encouraging or bribing someone to plead guilty to an offence they did not commit;
  • Asking someone to provide a false alibi and/or
  • A doctor giving a false medical certificate for an adjournment to be obtained in Court.

THE LAW

The offence of Perverting the Course of Justice is contained in section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which states:

A person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”

Case law/Jurisdiction

The nature and elements of the offence of perverting the course of justice were considered in R v Manley [1933] 1 KB 529. In this case the appellant had falsely alleged that she had been robbed by a man whose description she gave to the police. It was the description of an imaginary man. She was convicted of unlawfully effecting a public mischief.

To read more about the offence of perverting the course of justice click on this link.

STALK/INTIMIDATE

What is it?

Stalk/intimidate occurs when a person stalks or intimidates another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm is guilty of an offence.

Examples of stalk intimidate include

  • Constantly calling, texting or Facebook messaging someone
  • Making a threat to a person or their family
  • Repeatedly attending a person’s home or work

THE LAW

The offence of intimidation or stalking is contained in section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW). It reads as follows:

A person who stalks or intimidates another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm is guilty of an offence.

Case law/Jurisdiction

An offence of Stalk/intimidate is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made for trial on indictment by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Intimidation is defined as being one of the following:

  • Harassment or molestation
  • Contact with a person that causes the recipient to fear for his or her safety
  • Conduct that causes the recipient to fear for their safety or the safety of their family or partner

Whereas stalking is defined to include:

following a person or approaching or attending a person’s home or place of work, or any other place they attend regularly

What must the prosecution prove?

Since stalk-intimidate is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of stalk-intimidate

To establish stalk-intimidate, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

Intimidation

  • You intimidated someone
  • You did so intending that person to fear physical or mental harm

Stalking

  • You stalked someone
  • You did so intending that person to fear physical or mental harm

A person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years

To read more about the offences of Stalk and Intimidate click on this link.

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