Royal Commission hears shut down of paedophile probe investigated by anti-corruption branch

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse has heard that the South Australia Police anti-corruption branch investigated an Assistant Commissioner's decision to shut down an operation targeting several paedophiles, but no wrongdoing was found.

Two detectives have told the Commission the decision to stop Operation Deny thwarted their attempts to bring several paedophiles to justice.

One of them was Brian Perkins, who's believed to have abused dozens of intellectually disabled boys at an Adelaide special school.

Samantha Donovan reports.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: South Australia Police Detective Sergeant Leonid Mosheev has told the Royal Commission he was furious when an operation investigating four paedophiles, including Brian Perkins, was shut down in September 1993 by his superior officers.

Today under questioning from Peter Humphries, who is acting for several families of children abused at St Ann's, he confirmed that decision was later investigated by the South Australia Police anti-corruption branch.

PETER HUMPHRIES: Am I correct in understanding that you, and perhaps other detectives, were sufficiently concerned about the direction to shut down Operation Deny that it ended up being investigated by the anti-corruption branch?

LEONID MOSHEEV: That's correct.

PETER HUMPHRIES: And I think the ultimate finding of that investigation was that there was no criticism made of Assistant Commissioner Watkins?

LEONID MOSHEEV: Yes. I wasn't privy to what the result was until recent times.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Veteran child abuse investigator, Detective Sergeant Gregory Ramm, told the Commission that raids had been conducted on the homes of four suspected paedophiles, including Perkins and his associate Robert Hawkes, who had been involved with the abuse of boys at St Ann's.

Detective Sergeant Ramm told the Royal Commission the Operation Deny raids should have 'been start of investigation, not the end of it'.

COUNSEL ASSISTING: After you received this order from Detective Simons, did you make any inquiries as to who that order came from?


COUNSEL ASSISTING: And who did you understand the order came from?

GREGORY RAMM: He didn't name the person - he just said the AC. I presumed it was the Assistant Commissioner Watkins.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Assistant Commissioner Watkins has since died.

Detective Sergeant Ramm told the Commission that in his 38 year police career, he'd never seen a decision made like the one to shut down Operation Deny and the reason for it remains a mystery to him.

He described how detectives were told by Detective Chief Inspector Simons that Operation Deny was over.

GREGORY RAMM: We were discussing what we'd uncovered in each of the houses and what evidence we had. He was called away to a phone call. A short time later, he came back into the meeting and he announced that that was the end of Operation Deny, and not to investigate it any further.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Lawyer Peter Humphries is acting for several families who weren't notified by the police or St Ann's school that it was likely their sons had been abused by Brian Perkins.

Mr Humphries asked Detective Sergeant Mosheev about the stalling of the investigation.

PETER HUMPHRIES: If, in late 1991, that investigation had not been filed, very shortly after the end of August '91, the parents of the other possible abuse victims would have been made aware of the investigation?

LEONID MOSHEEV: Well that would have been my intention, yes.

PETER HUMPHRIES: In September 1993, had Operation Deny not been shut down, again the parents of those possible abuse victims would have been spoken to?

LEONID MOSHEEV: I would say almost definitely.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Perkins skipped bail and fled to Queensland, but a decision was made not to extradite him.

Detective Sergeant Mosheev told Commissioner Bob Atkinson, a Detective Chief Inspector McCaffrey told him several years later Perkins must be extradited from Queensland.

LEONID MOSHEEV: You will do as you're told - this is a direction from the Commissioner. No matter what, you're bringing him back.

BOB ATKINSON: Do you know why?

LEONID MOSHEEV: Pressure from the Archbishop of the Catholic Church. The Archbishop had visited the commissioner; the commissioner had decided that he would, and it was the commissioner's view that this would happen. Boom, boom, boom, boom.

BOB ATKINSON: So your understanding is that this decision to now extradite Perkins came about because the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Adelaide visited the police commissioner?

LEONID MOSHEEV: That's my understanding, yes.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett, who oversaw Operation Deny, has told the Royal Commission he was never given a specific reason for it being shut down, but it was never intended to be a long-term investigation.

The Royal Commission hearings continue in Adelaide tomorrow morning.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Samantha Donovan

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Source : https://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s3967286.htm

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