Former Rose Bay resident David Rook and his partner John Tanner are at the centre of the continuing case.
In a decision handed down by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal’s senior member Stephen Montgomery in late December 2013, it was decided that Rook was correct in his testimony that the CCTV footage sent to him following a Freedom of Information request by Greens upper house MP David Shoebridge on his behalf was not the same as previously-viewed footage.
“I accepted Mr Rook’s evidence with respect to his observations when he viewed the CCTV footage at Rose Bay Police station on 20 September 2011 and made contemporaneous notes about what he had viewed,” Montgomery said in his findings.
“It is common ground that the Respondent [NSW Police] no longer holds the missing footage. There is no evidence on which I could reasonably conclude how the missing footage was lost. However, it appears that it was no longer available on 12 December 2011.”
Rook now intends to pursue a civil damages suit for what he said was the discriminatory treatment he and Tanner endured from officers of Rose Bay and Waverley police stations in the early hours of June 5, 2011.
The pair alleged that Tanner was viciously beaten by several officers, were mocked for being “fags” and mistreated after Rook was arrested for drink-driving – a charge a magistrate would later throw out for being an unlawful arrest that contravened existing laws forbidding breath tests by police on one’s own home property.
The incident arose after the couple went to Rose Bay police station to report an assault on Tanner by security guards while at the Sydney Opera House earlier in the evening. The couple alleged that police refused to take a statement or offer help. Rook has further alleged he was “set up” on the drink-driving charge partly due to a stammer he has when speaking.
Shoebridge told the Star Observer the public should be rightly concerned that footage from CCTV cameras within police stations were apparently open to manipulation.
“Given the police were unable to explain how this footage was lost, there is an urgent need for further investigation to discover exactly what went wrong and how extensive the problem is,” he said.
“There is clearly a significant question mark over the integrity of the police’s internal CCTV records and this is ultimately not in the interests of the police or the general public.”
However, a police spokesperson told the Star Observer that to suggest the missing footage was deliberately removed would be completely incorrect and not a true reflection of the ADT decision.
“Equally there is no evidence or indication from the Judicial Member that Rose Bay Police altered any reports,” the spokesperson added.
“To suggest otherwise would misrepresent the true judicial position and finding.”
Today, the ADT began hearing the second part of Rook’s case involving apparent edits and manipulation by police of their internal computer log-on system.
Rook and his legal team allege key details were altered or deleted to hide the true movements and whereabouts of a number of officers said to be involved in the incident.
It is likely the case will again go to the NSW Ombudsman which in a December 2012 decision found that neither Rook or Tanner were mistreated but that it would re-investigate the matter should there be “an adverse comment about the NSWPF in the ADT proceedings”.
Rook told the Star Observer that his case was an example as to why an overhaul of the police complaints system was needed.
“Anyone who tries to stand up for themselves will need huge determination, a filing system, a law degree and huge amounts of money, huge amounts of time and at the end of that you are still at best going to get a bitsy result with the police involved getting of scott-free,” he said.
“Why would anyone want to go through all of this?”