A former police officer who failed to deal properly with cash donations has avoided punishment, but not publication.
Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish today refused final suppression for 63-year-old Trevor James Hinkley although she noted he had struggled with ill health at the time $2750 in cash donations went missing.
Hinkley's long police career has ended because of health issues.
His defence counsel Pip Hall QC described it as "a tragic and sad end to a lifetime devoted to public service".
The judge declined to grant a discharge without conviction, but decided Hinkley had been punished enough through the prosecution and the conviction.
The judge found Hinkley's work running the traffic diversion scheme had been meticulous. Under the scheme, first offenders can avoid a conviction if they make amends and often pay a donation.
On 12 occasions when Hinkley was paid a cash donation that was meant to be paid on to the Victim Support organisation, the cash went missing.
Hinkley said he had been stressed and had "binned" the money.
However, cleaners at the police station gave evidence at a disputed facts hearing on Monday and the judge held they would have noticed if such items had been thrown away.
Hinkley earlier pleaded guilty to one representative charge of theft by failing to account for the money as required by the Commissioner of Police.
Evidence was heard that Hinkley had been struggling with chronic pain, diabetes, and over-use of painkillers. The defence claimed that he had been in a state of confusion and cognitive impairment.
Judge Farish ruled: "You were clearly stressed and you had a level of depression but there was no indication to anyone that it was causing such a level of confusion or cognitive impairment that you were unable to do your job."
She accepted he was dealing with failing health, and increased stress and anxiety in the workplace.
He had been held in high regard by his police colleagues. One of them told the hearing on Monday that he would have trusted Hinkley "with my wife and my bank account".
The judge said the offending had been a significant breach of trust as a serving police officer.
There was a public interest in the case, and a presumption that cases could be reported openly unless the publication would cause "incalculable harm over and above the norm".
The judge said she was not satisfied that applied in this case.
"The public is entitled to know that persons in these privileged positions cannot escape being named and shamed," she said.
Hinkley paid back all the money at the time he pleaded guilty.
Canterbury Police District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said Hinkley's conviction showed the seriousness with which police view this type of offending.
"It is always disappointing to have to bring charges against any police officer," he said.
"We take allegations of dishonest behaviour by our staff extremely seriously - and we do not tolerate corruption in any form.
"It is particularly distressing when an officer betrays the trust of the community, as their dishonest actions are a slur on all police, who serve our citizens with integrity and honesty."
Knowles confirmed that Hinkley had left police employment in December 2012. An internal investigation had commenced but was not completed as Hinkley resigned.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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