Tuesday, October 19, 2004

4 named over APS death - Court hears of corruption

Australian Protective Service whistleblower Gary Lee-Rogers may have died at the hands of four people named in court yesterday by a former NSW police detective who backed his claims of corruption in the service.

In evidence yesterday at a coronial inquest into Mr Lee-Rogers' death at Queanbeyan in 2002, retired detective senior constable Deborah Lee Locke identified four individuals, whose names cannot be published and were not read aloud under court order by coroner Jacqueline Milledge.

Ms Locke also revealed evidence, compiled from internal APS documents, which substantiated Mr Lee-Rogers' whistleblower claims of systemic mismanagement within the APS including the misuse of company credit cards by employees.  

She accused the APS of corruption and collusion, tendering to the court the documents, including one from March 2000, which revealed that more than 60 firearms, 30 handcuffs and bomb-suit equipment had mysteriously vanished from the organisation. The audit report showed that 47 revolvers were gone, as well as two rifles, six shotguns, 18 batons, computers and mobile phones.

The missing weapons, as well as claims of mismanagement and workplace harassment, were among allegations Mr Lee- Rogers, a senior officer, was planning to use to expose what he called the "web of lies, corruption and collusion" that existed within his workplace.

Ms Locke said she believed Mr Lee- Rogers had died after months of bullying to shut him up by members of an "old boys club" that existed within the APS and possibly the Australian Federal Police. She did not believe his death was murder but rather manslaughter by several individuals who wanted to "send him a message".

Ms Locke, a 12-year NSW Police Force veteran who worked as a detective with the Kings Cross undercover drug squad and the Fraud section, said that from the medical evidence available she believed he was either punched in the face or smothered with a pillow.

Days before his death, Mr Lee-Rogers made a triple-0 call, claiming he had been bashed by a federal police officer.

His landlady, one of the last people to see him alive, said he appeared to have been roughed up and may have had bruising on his face.

The claim that a member of the AFP had bashed Mr Lee-Rogers has not been substantiated.

A post mortem examination did not reveal a cause of death, although initial investigations by police from Queanbeyan determined that it may have been from natural causes.

[Investigations by police?]

There was also speculation that because he had been depressed, his death may have been the result of suicide.

[Just plain rubbish and propaganda to white wash the facts.]

Mr Lee-Rogers' body was found slumped on the bed of his Queanbeyan flat on October 1, 2002, only weeks before he was due to face court on fraud charges which were levelled against him after his initial complaints to management about problems within the APS, the nation's guard service.

"Gary Lee-Rogers was a genuine whistleblower and he was excited about going to court to reveal what he knew," Ms Locke said. "He may have been depressed, but I don't believe he was suicidal."

In the weeks prior to his death, he had sent e-mails and made desperate telephone calls to fellow members of Whistleblowers Australia, claiming that he had been threatened. 

In one message he said that a gun had been shoved in his mouth and that former colleagues were driving past his house pointing fingers at him like pistols and motioning as with knives across their throats in a bid to rattle him.

"I am in fear of my life and I know I will die 'accidentally' or 'by my own hand' in the next few months," he wrote in one of his e-mails. "I am in a world of fear and pain."

By Renee Cutrupi 19 October 04


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