Cop uses graphic crime scene shots in speech

Last updated 14:44 28/11/2013
aUST COP Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles

IN HOT WATER: Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles.

Jill Meagher
VICTIM: Jill Meagher went missing when walking home from drinks with workmates.
Adrian Bayley
JUSTIN MCMANUS/ Fairfax
REPEAT OFFENDER: Adrian Bayley was out on parole when he raped and killed Jill Meagher last year.

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An Australian police officer has apologised for showing a photo of a murder victim in a shallow grave at a charity event, but says he's done nothing wrong and has used the image several times before.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles showed a photo of Irish woman Jill  Meagher Meagher's semi-naked body during a talk he gave about his job to a cancer fundraising event in regional Victoria last Friday.

Meagher was raped and murdered after a night out with workmates in September 2012.

Iddles said he delivered the presentation in a  professional and totally compassionate way. But he said sorry to audience members who were upset by the  picture.

''If I have offended you in any way I totally apologise,'' he told reporters. 

He had no regrets in hindsight about showing the photo because had done it in compassionate way.

He also revealed he'd shown the photo five or six times at  different events and he couldn't understand the sudden media storm.

''I've given my life to victims, to the families of victims, and in no way do I want to demean them,'' Iddles said.

One audience member told the Herald Sun the image showed Meagher lying in a freshly uncovered grave.

"I was shocked, and where I was sitting a few people looked at each other and there were raised eyebrows."

City of Greater Bendigo councillor Mark Weragoda said he "looked away in shock" when the photo of Meagher's  body was shown.

"It brings back bad memories and you don't know what other audience members have been through," he said.

"Anyone in that audience could have had direct contact with Jill's family. It just saddens you and lingers long after." 

"It was a photo in a shallow grave; obviously, they had just opened it," another man said.

Iddles said Meagher's father George had told him he'd done  nothing wrong and he did not need to apologise.

''He said: 'Ron you are doing a fantastic job and do I not object  to you using my daughter's photograph','' he said.

Iddles said Meagher's parents had also spoken to  her husband Tom, who also said he supported the use of the photo.

When asked if it had hurt him and his reputation, he said paused and shakily said: ''It's taken it's toll.''

Event organiser Keith Sutherland said Iddles had been speaking about the value of looking after each other when he had shown the pictures.

INSTANT BAN

Assistant Commissioner (crime) Steve Fontana said Iddles was one of Victoria Police's most dedicated and hard working detectives and had been in the force for more than 30 years.

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"This was a unfortunate error of judgement and my sincere apologies are extended to Jill's family, friends, the community, and in particular, to her husband Tom."

With immediate effect, Victoria Police banned all further public presentations on operational matters until some appropriate protocols have been developed.

"Few wearing the uniform have been more committed and loyal in their service of the community," Assistant Commissioner Fontana said.

"I am saddened that a speech he delivered in good faith - at a charity fundraiser - will have caused further emotional anguish for the family."

Police Association Secretary Greg Davies said has defended Iddles.

"According to Ms Meagher's parents, it was not offensive to her memory. I think that is most important," Davies said.

"Once it was put in context... they were quite satisfied with what he had done and were encouraged by his efforts to try and make a difference.''

Davies said Iddles, who has been suggested as a future Police Association Secretary, was "untarnished" by his use of graphic crime scene photos.

"He was delivering a lecture about homicides - what did they think he was going to talk about?"

- The Age and AAP

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