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Police Clear Deputy Commissioner Over Murder Inquiry Complaint

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland, Dec 21 NZPA - An internal investigation has cleared deputy commissioner Rob Pope of making false statements during the Marlborough Sounds murder inquiry, police said today.

Mr Pope was investigated over an affidavit he presented to the High Court during the inquiry into the disappearance of Olivia Hope, 17 and Ben Smart, 21, on January 1, 1998.

The investigation followed complaints by Chris Watson, whose son, Scott, is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years after being found guilty of killing of the pair, whose bodies have not been found.

Mr Pope, who headed the murder inquiry, swore an affidavit first presented to the High Court on February 18, 1998, to obtain electronic interception warrants.

The Independent Police Complaints Authority is also considering the matter.

Police said today that its investigations were carried out by Detective Inspector Ross Pinkham and reviewed by Assistant Commissioner Gavin Jones.

The review was itself independently reviewed by barrister Philip Morgan QC.

Mr Pinkham found that the allegation against Mr Pope of swearing a false affidavit was not substantiated.

He apologised to Chris Watson for the four-year delay in producing his report, citing factors including his posting from one position to another and his involvement in a number of criminal investigations.

Mr Pinkham and Mr Jones met Mr Watson last week to explain the findings of the investigation.

Mr Jones agreed with the conclusions of Mr Pinkham's report.

"Errors or mistakes either inadvertently or collectively do not adversely impact on the overall integrity of the affidavit, nor do they meet a criminal threshold," he said.

He acknowledged that the delay in producing the findings was "unacceptable" and made recommendations to improve internal processes.

Mr Pinkham and Mr Jones' reports would be forwarded to the IPCA for further review.

Police said they would made no further comment because the matter was still before the IPCA.

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