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Court slams Mackay police for "illegal search" of home

The suburb of Rural View
The suburb of Rural View Lee Constable

A SUPREME Court justice has slammed Mackay region police for illegally entering and searching a Rural View home and for a displaying "an astonishingly cavalier attitude".

Police had initially gone to the Northern Beaches address in June 2014 while investigating a traffic matter.

A man and a woman were charged with producing meth and with drug possession offences after police found items including two water pipes, 18 used syringes, 15 marijuana seeds, a baking dish with a white substance in the sink, an iodine bottle and clip-seal bags with a crystal substance.

The pair took the police to court, saying the evidence should be excluded because it was illegally obtained and Supreme Court Justice James Henry this week found in their favour.

His judgment said police used force to enter the house, which was unlawful because they did not have permission from a police inspector to do so.

He also slammed the police's behaviour, saying it was concerning that the police "displayed such an astonishingly cavalier attitude to the fact they were intruding upon a dwelling house" when they were only inquiring into a possible traffic matter.

Justice Henry said criminal investigations usually exhibited "a markedly higher level of respect" and a "need for care in complying with the laws".

The officers went to the unit after a white ute that they suspected ran a red light earlier that day was spotted parked in the driveway.

They entered the house through the back and front doors.

In his judgment, Justice Henry said one of the police officers was on his way inside when he said "Mind if we come in" and a woman responded "Yeah".

Justice Henry said this could have meant that she did mind them coming in but that it was open to interpretation.

Police later searched the house after one of the officers found a gun and a man allegedly becoming agitated.

Under legislation, police have to seek permission from an inspector if they need to use reasonable necessary force to enter a property where they haven't received consent from the owner or occupier.

But the officers had not done this.

Justice Henry said it was concerning that out of the five police officers who went to the Rural View address, two were sergeants and one was a senior sergeant who might have been expected to have the knowledge and restraint necessary to comply with the law.

He also found it was in the community interest that in this case, "ensuring police do not think they can behave like this towards citizens in their own homes when investigating a mere traffic matter" outweighed the need to convict alleged drug offenders.

Justice Henry ordered evidence found in the search be excluded. - ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  court mackay police search


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