Renee Toms, then 22, who was allegedly assaulted by former policeman Benjamin Thomas Price.
Renee Toms, then 22, who was allegedly assaulted by former policeman Benjamin Thomas Price.

Cop’s corrupt act to help fellow officer

ONE of Queensland's most notorious and long-running police brutality cases has claimed another police scalp, with an appeal tribunal finding a cop acted corruptly to help exonerate another officer.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal president Martin Daubney and tribunal member Joanne Browne ruled on Friday that veteran north Queensland Senior Sergeant Anthony William Lee engaged in corrupt conduct by recommending his colleague Senior Constable Benjamin Price be exonerated of using excessive force on 21-year-old barmaid Renee Toms.

Toms complained that she was assaulted by Senior Constable Price inside the Airlie Beach watch-house in north Queensland on January 18, 2008.

Benjamin Price.
Benjamin Price.

Toms was flung about by the hair by Price while handcuffed, before being slammed into a desk and the floor, with the assault captured on CCTV.

The tribunal found that "the use of excessive force can be seen in the video" taken from the CCTV and that the footage did not corroborate Senior Constable Price's version of events.

Sgt Lee, who worked as Officer-in-Charge of the Mackay Child Protection Unit, ran an internal police investigation into the alleged brutality.

The appeal tribunal ruled that Sgt Lee recommended exoneration of Senior Constable Price and dismissed Toms' complaint because he wanted to give a corrupt benefit to his colleague.

The appeal tribunal noted Sgt Lee could have denied this finding and urged them to find he acted properly, but Sgt Lee chose not to give evidence.

The ruling overturned a QCAT decision from December 22, 2017 which found Sgt Lee had not acted corruptly and "more likely" he had exonerated Senior Constable Price "to get the investigation off his desk".

The Crime and Corruption Commission has previously fought with the QPS in the Supreme Court over its "soft" punishments for Sgt Lee, with the QPS letting Lee keep his rank and pay-level provided he behaved.

The CCC argued in the Supreme Court that Lee should be demoted - by two ranks - to senior constable.

Senior Constable Price was convicted of assaulting Ms Toms and in October 2010 he was sentenced in the District Court to 27 months prison for her assault and the assault of two other victims in 2007 and 2008.

A related legal fight has previously heard allegations that if Sgt Lee had correctly found Senior Constable Price used excessive force against Ms Toms in 2008 then he would have lost his badge and not have gone on to assault a third tourist victim on May 25, 2008.

The CCC, which brought the case against Sgt Lee, has until May 24 to tell the court how it believes Sgt Lee should be disciplined.

The case returns to QCAT on June 24.



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