Cop fails to overturn ‘botched’ murder findings

A QUEENSLAND cop has lost a bid to overturn coronial findings that accused him of running a botched murder investigation and referred him to the Police Commissioner.

In Coroner John Hutton's last decision before he retired in November 2017, he made explosive recommendations about the hit-and-run death of Hong Kong tourist Shui Ki Chan on the Warrego Highway in 2012.

Gatton woman Joanne McAuley has been charged with murder over the hit-and-run death of Hong Kong tourist Shui Ki Chan. Picture: Supplied
Gatton woman Joanne McAuley has been charged with murder over the hit-and-run death of Hong Kong tourist Shui Ki Chan. Picture: Supplied

Mr Hutton found it likely that ice addict Joanne McCauley deliberately ran over the 25-year-old and left him for dead in a ditch, where he suffered hypothermia and died on a cold winter evening almost eight years ago.

During the inquest, McCauley denied she had any involvement in Chan's death.

He recommended murder charges be laid and made damning comments that police showed no urgency in laying a murder charge against the woman.

Mr Hutton then referred lead investigator, Gatton Detective Senior Constable David Neumann, to the Police Commissioner saying his investigation had been entirely inadequate - including a failure to collect additional documents requested by the coroner.

Mr Hutton also recommended QPS consider whether any disciplinary action should be taken against the officer for the botched investigation.

"The assistance provided to me by Detective Senior Constable Neumann, during my coronial investigation, was inadequate," Mr Hutton also said when handing down his findings.

Constable Neumann later launched legal action in the Queensland Supreme Court against Mr Hutton, claiming the comments were a breach of "natural justice".

Joanne McCauley outside court in 2016.
Joanne McCauley outside court in 2016.

He also asked the court to find the referral to the QPS disciplinary unit was outside of the scope of the then-coroner's power.

But in a decision handed down this week, the court found the police officer's claim had no merit and the application was dismissed.

Mr Neumann had argued the comments were a breach of the rules of natural justice for several reasons including the fact counsel assisting the coroner did not identify the officer's conduct as an issue to be considered in the inquest.

The court found, Mr Neumann could have made submissions to the court about his conduct.

He did not give evidence in the inquest because he was unwell, but the Brisbane Supreme Court heard he made no attempt to have the inquest reopened so he could.

The judgment also said the referral to the Police Commissioner was for "consideration" not prosecution.

"It was not an expression of a view that Mr Neumann was liable to anyone for anything only that his conduct was to be referred for further consideration by the Police Commissioner," Justice Glenn Martin found.

Neumann was on Thursday ordered to pay 60 per cent of the Attorney-General's costs, who intervened in the matter on behalf of Mr Hutton.

McCauley was in June 2018 charged with murder. She has not entered a plea.


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