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QCAT sets timetable for sanction of detective who engaged in corrupt conduct

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has given a police detective who engaged in corrupt conduct by influencing a junior officer against breath-testing a retired Victorian police officer until 24 July to respond on the penalty she should receive.

QCAT member Ann Fitzpatrick, in a recently published decision, found Detective Senior Constable Naomi C’Ann Shearer acted corruptly at Alexandra Headland on 27 July 2016.

However, the tribunal also found Shearer had not been dishonest in two statements she made during police interviews a week after the incident.

Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CCC) brought three charges of corrupt conduct against Shearer during a hearing on 13 May 2021.

During the hearing, counsel Jeff Hunter QC, for Shearer, said the 51-year-old detective did not dispute that she acted corruptly by influencing a fellow officer against breath-testing retired Victorian police Sergeant Kevin Perry outside the Alexandra Headland Surf Lifesaving Club.

However, Shearer disputed two other charges in which she allegedly made “impugned statements” such as “my intent was not to give advice or tell” the other officer what to do.

Ms Fitzpatrick found the two statements were “not dishonest” and did not constitute corrupt conduct under Section 15 of Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Act 2001.

“The events of 27 July 2016 occurred when two uniformed police officers, Constable Blunt and Constable Walsh, required assistance when confronted with the prospect of administering a breath test to a Victoria police office on holiday on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Fitzpatrick said in her 16-page decision.

“(Shearer) and her colleague … responded as they were nearby.

“As a result of statements made by (Shearer) a breath test was not administered on the driver (Perry).”

A subsequent investigation by the Queensland Police Service made a recommendation to the CCC in May 2019 the appropriate disciplinary sanction for Shearer’s conduct was a reduction in a “pay point” of her Senior Constable salary for a period of 12 months.

The CCC rejected the recommendation in the QPS’s Abbreviated Discipline Proceeding proposal.

Ms Fitzpatrick said: “The CCC considered the proposed sanction wholly inadequate, did not act as a deterrent (to others), nor did it reflect the standards of the community.”

Shearer in 2018 pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to the criminal charge of refusal by a public officer to perform duty. She was fined $2000 with no conviction recorded.

The CCC submitted during the tribunal hearing that Shearer’s penalty for corrupt conduct should be dismissal from the police force.

Ms Fitzpatrick has yet to decide what sanctions Shearer should receive, and has set a timetable to allow parties to make submissions to the tribunal on what the appropriate penalty should be.

The CCC has until 4pm Tuesday 6 July to make its submission on penalty and allowed Shearer until 27 July to respond.

“The (CCC and Shearer) must advise the Tribunal … if they require an oral hearing in relation to penalty, or whether the question is able to be determined on the papers, not before 10 August 2021,” she said.

Read the decision.

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