Policeman gave junior officer ‘heads-up’ about corruption probe, court told

Prosecutors have accused a decorated senior policeman of giving a junior female officer advanced warning about a sensitive corruption investigation because he was confident she would keep the secret.

Commander Stuart Bateson, a Victoria Police Valour Award recipient who was also recognised for his response to the Bourke Street massacre, was before the Melbourne Magistrates Court this week on three charges of disclosing information about an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission probe in 2018.

Commander Stuart Bateson arrives at court on Friday.Credit:Joe Armao

Commander Bateson, who has been suspended from the force with pay, says he is not guilty of the charges and has alleged the junior officer concocted the allegations.

Evidence in the case finished on Friday, with magistrate Simon Zebrowski indicating he may hand down a decision next week.

The case hinges on three private conversations between Commander Bateson and the policewoman in 2018.

Messages between the pair have been central to the prosecution case as evidence the policewoman must have been told about the IBAC probe, but they are messages Commander Bateson, represented by Marcus Dempsey, said mean something entirely different.

Stuart Bateson at a press conference about the Bourke Street massacre in 2017.Credit:Eddie Jim

The policewoman, whose identity is suppressed, has alleged in court that Commander Bateson came to her house in August 2018 and told her he had been called in and asked questions, warned her that she might be called and coached her on what to say.

The court heard Commander Bateson had given evidence to IBAC four days earlier, and served with a confidentiality notice that made it an offence to disclose the subject of the probe or even that he was called.

At the time IBAC was investigating conflicts of interest, allegations senior police were interfering in sexual misconduct investigations and other misconduct claims against senior police, the court has been told.

In the final day of evidence on Friday, prosecutor Sarah Thomas accused Commander Bateson of giving the policewoman “the heads up about what happened at IBAC”.

Commander Bateson said that never happened.

During the visit, Commander Bateson said the junior officer was talking about an article in The Age from the month before that detailed an IBAC investigation into nepotism and cover-ups in the force.

He claimed she was worried she was in trouble and that her career and ambition to make the homicide squad would be cruelled.

Commander Bateson said he told her he couldn’t talk about the article, and told her not to worry and tell the truth. He said he was not talking about the IBAC probe.

Bateson pictured in 2009, with the matriarch of the Moran crime family, Judy Moran. His work in the gangland war led to a character based on him in the Underbelly TV series.Credit:Justin McManus

Ms Thomas said the junior officer sent Commander Bateson a message on WhatsApp in October 2018 telling him to stop his mind games and contacting her.

“I now feel extremely intimidated by your unpredictable behaviour,” the message, read to the court, said.

Ms Thomas said the junior policewoman, whose identity is suppressed, told him she was “18 years and six ranks your junior”.

Commander Bateson said he exerted no pressure on the junior officer and it wasn’t unusual for her to get angry at him.

The court heard on Thursday the policewoman had sent a message that appeared to be a threat to report him to IBAC, and “You’re f—ed”.

“Did that cause you concern?” Ms Thomas asked.

“To be honest, I had seen this kind of anger from her before, so not really,” Commander Bateson said.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article