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Thread: Caithness policeman denies fabricating evidence

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    Jun 2010

    Default Caithness policeman denies fabricating evidence

    Suspect did implicate his co-accused police witness tells Wick robberies trial

    A CAITHNESS police officer has today strenuously denied falsifying an off-the-record attempt by a robberies suspect, to implicate his alleged accomplice
    The accusation was levelled at Detective Sergeant Steve Macdonald by advocate Alan Macleod during the marathon trial of Matthew Peters and John Hind, at Wick Sheriff Court, today.
    It was the latest twist in the episode of the admissions said to have been made by Peters (40) from Colne, Lancashire, which was reported exclusively on the org, yesterday. He was said, then, by Constable Richard Ross to have had nothing to say about the robberies while being interviewed on tape, at Leyland police station, in Lancashire, but was more talkative, once the machine was switched off.
    Constable Ross said that Peters volunteered to give them information that would “tie Hind into every one of the break-ins” and offered additional co-operation, if they would drop the proceedings against him.
    D.S. Macdonald, who headed up the robberies investigation, corroborated this, and said, today, that the way Peters put it, was that he would offer them “Hind on a plate”.
    Peters 40, from Bournemouth, and Hind 54, from Colne, Lancashire, deny breaking into a string of post-offices and commercial premises in the Highlands and north-east of Scotland and stealing 34,497 and stock amounting to 10,508. The crimes are alleged to have taken place between July 27 and October 11, 2007.
    Mr Macleod, for Peters, cast doubts on the post-recording admissions, culminating in the accusation: “The truth of the matter is, D.S. Macdonald, that the reason why you don’t have a recording of them, is because Mr Peters didn’t say anything about the things you have told us.”
    D.S.Macdonald replied: “That is not true...he said every word I told you. It is in my notebook.”
    Earlier, the officer corroborated Constable Ross’s account of what had been said on and off-the-record including an off tape reference to a Vauxhall Omega car which had been found abandoned by police when they disturbed two men at Glenuig, who fled into the hill. They were identified as Peters and Hind who was chased by police and arrested.
    D.S. Macdonald said that the admissions made by Peters were not noted at the time but he didn't enter them in his notebook until about an hour later, and as the court heard previously, these were signed as being a true record, by his colleague, Constable Ross.
    A transcript of the taped interview confirmed that Peter was offered the services of a solicitor but declined it.
    D.S. Macdonald agreed with Mr Macleod that Peters was “perfectly entitled” to remain silent, as he had done during the taped interview.
    The detective said that Matthews became “extremely cocky and smart” once the recording machine was switched off and made the admissions including a suggestion that the police had not recovered everything from the Vauxhall Omega.
    D.S. Macdonald said that he repeatedly advised Peters that there would be no deal and that he was still under caution.
    Mr Macleod: “Did this man (Peters) really make those statements in front of two police officers. You don’t think it was stupid of him.”
    D.S. Macdonald: “I think it was pretty stupid of him.”
    Mr Macleod: “Did you make a note of the statements at the time.”
    D. S Macdonald: “Not at the time...we were working to a timescale.”
    Mr Macleod: “Surely making notes at the time would be an advantage.”
    D.S.Macdonald: “The circumstances of the interview dictated I did it afterwards.
    Mr Macleod: “There would be a certain advantage to noting such statements at the time. Is that not right?”.
    D.S. Macdonald: “It depends..sometimes yes, sometimes no.”
    Mr Macleod: “One of the advantages would be that whatever you noted, would be more accurate, because you are noting it as the person says it, not an hour or an hour-and-a-half later. There is no suggestion that Mr Peters had signed the notebook. He didn’t get the opportunity.”
    D.S Macdonald agreed with Mr Macleod that the best evidence was the tape which provided an accurate account of what was said, while a noted version provided only what one person said.
    Mr Macleod: “Another advantage in such cases, is that police could not be accused of unfounded allegations of bullying or harassment or making stuff up. The tape is an advantage if someone later says ‘I didn’t say any of these things, they are not true’ and the jury, here, would be told exactly what a person did, or did not say."
    D.S. Macdonald: “Yes”.
    Asked by Mr Macleod why he didn’t just switch the tape back on, D.S. Macdonald said that he had just spent a hour interviewing Peters on tape and was satisfied that the accused was not going to say anything and there was no point wasting another two tapes.
    D.S. Macdonald said that he had to make an assessment of the situation and added: “I did, in this case and I stand by it.”
    Asked whether he could have availed himself of the Leyland police station video equipment, D.S.Macdonald said that the option didn’t cross his mind, at the time and in any case he didn’t have any experience of video interviewing.
    Mr Macleod said that in the post-recording statements, Peters asked what had been recovered from the Vauxhall Omega and suggested that the police had not found everything. (A second search uncovered some mobile phones in a door panel)
    The advocate said, that, given that Peters had not been told about the recovery of the car, he wondered how the accused had come by the information.
    D..S Macdonald said that any suspect in that situation would know that such a vehicle would have been seized by the police.
    The court heard today that the prosecution and defence would be considering the possibility of agreeing evidence which would shorten the case’s allocated six weeks. If this is submitted to the court it would mean that the last witness for the Crown would be heard on Wednesday when the trial continues.
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 25-Aug-11 at 18:54.

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