Sacked NSW cop loses appeal over dismissal

Sacked NSW cop loses appeal over dismissal

National News
A former NSW police officer has lost his appeal after being dismissed.

A former NSW police officer has lost his appeal after being dismissed.

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A police officer sacked after starting a sexual relationship with a witness has lost an appeal against his dismissal. James Lees, 32, was fired by the NSW pol...

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A police officer sacked after starting a sexual relationship with a witness has lost an appeal against his dismissal.

James Lees, 32, was fired by the NSW police commissioner in September 2017 following two investigations into allegations he abused his position "to pick up witnesses and victims for sex".

It was found Lees had engaged in an inappropriate relationship and shown a pattern of placing his own interests before those of the force.

As a result, the commissioner declared no confidence in his ability to "respectfully, diligently and ethically" carry out his duties.

On Friday, the NSW Industrial Relations Committee rejected Lees' challenge to his sacking after a hearing further evidence of the former officer's "dishonesty".

It was revealed Lees met the woman at the centre of his alleged misconduct on May 3, 2016 while responding to a domestic assault and car accident in Dubbo.

The woman was a witness and Lees took her statement and phone number.

Eight days later he served her with a subpoena, just two minutes later sending her a text.

"Best subpoena I've ever served," he wrote before the conversation descended into "sexually explicit messages".

IRC Chief Commissioner Peter Kite subsequently concluded the pair slept together that night.

It was also revealed that when Lees was first questioned over his involvement with the woman he lied to an inspector, saying their relationship began well after the matter went court when he met her again at a local pub.

In a second investigation into his misconduct, he again lied about when the relationship began, this time saying it was close to the hearing date on June 6.

After hearing Lees evade questions while giving evidence to the IRC, Mr Kite's assessment was scathing.

"It is apparent I found the applicant's evidence lacking in credibility," he wrote.

"I do not accept he was confused other than by the web of inconsistent half-truths he sought to advance to excuse or mitigate his behaviour."

It was revealed that during Lees' time as a policeman he had previously been caught out - in uniform - engaging in sexual intercourse in a car parked under a bridge outside Narromine.

He was reprimanded over that incident and also after he was overheard using explicit language to discuss sexual matters while on guard duty at Dubbo Base Hospital.

With all of this in mind, the IRC upheld the police commissioner's decision to sack Lees, saying he was "evasive and lacked candour" while giving evidence which "demonstrated his lack of willingness to acknowledge and accept responsibility for his misconduct".

Mr Kite said Lees had already been given a second chance on the police force and his persistent dishonesty provided ample justification for the initial decision to sack him.

Australian Associated Press

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