Top cop grilled over Swift comment

Karen Webb speaks about alleged murders. Picture Sunrise.JPG
Top cop Karen Webb quotes Taylor Swift while hitting back at critics. Picture: Sunrise

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb has refused to apologise for using a Taylor Swift lyric when questioned on live TV over backlash to her three-day silence after a serving officer was charged with two murders.

Ms Webb has been the target of significant criticism over her absence after charges were laid against Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon over the alleged murder of couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.

Sunrise co-host Natalie Barr drilled in on the police boss on Tuesday, saying her silence in the three days after charges were laid against a police officer speaks volumes.

“No matter how busy you are, you have a police officer allegedly involved in this. You have a crime that has gripped this nation. Three days to speak? Come on,” Barr said.

Karen Webb speaks about alleged murders. Picture Sunrise.JPG
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb says there will always be ‘haters’. Picture: Sunrise

“It is still a live investigation, as I said, it’s very complex,” Ms Webb replied.

Unimpressed with the response, Barr interjected, asking whether she thought it was a “mistake” not to “stand up, speak and be human”.

Ms Webb said while she had been quiet publicly, she did spend the last few days speaking with the families of Mr Baird and Mr Davies.

“If they are watching the show this morning, I want them to know that we are doing everything possible to find Jesse and Luke,” she said.

Co-host Matt Shirvington jumped in, asking whether Ms Webb thought it was fair she was receiving so much criticism for her actions.

“There will always be haters, haters like to hate. Isn’t that what Taylor (Swift) says?” Ms Webb replied.

“I have a job to do. It is a big job. This is just one of many.”

Karen Webb speaks about alleged murders. Picture Sunrise.JPG
Sunrise hosts Nat Barr and Matt Shirvington grilled Ms Webb. Picture: Sunrise

She said the Paddington investigation was just one of seven alleged murders across the state last week.

“I have got the confidence of the minister and the Premier and I have got a job to do and really the important thing is really about these families, the friends and the gay community who are all wondering what has happened here,” Ms Webb said. 

Police continue their search for the bodies of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies on a farm in the Southern Tablelands region of Bungonia. Picture: NCA NewsWire
It’s understood Beau Lamarre-Condon visited the farm in the days after the alleged murder. Picture: NCA NewsWire

“That’s my job, is to make sure that the homicide squad investigators provide answers. We’re all looking for the answers.”

Questioned by Sky News’ Kieran Gilbert later that same day as to whether the lyric was an “appropriate response”, Ms Webb played a straight bat.

“Like I said, it’s not about me. This is about Jesse and Luke’s family,” she said.

“If they’re watching, I want them to know that the efforts of the NSW Police Force are focused on finding their family members”.

Ms Webb also rebuffed reports that there was “disquiet” among the rank and file police.

“Wasn’t my intention to offend”: Webb explains slip-up

During the interview, Ms Webb apologised for referring to the couple’s alleged murder during Monday’s press conference as a “crime of passion”.

“What I wanted to distinguish, and the point about raising it in that way, was that it’s not a gay hate crime,” she said.

“This is a different sort of crime and they shouldn’t be conflated issues. So, I do apologise if that was insensitive. It wasn’t intended to be.

“It was simply about distinguishing the two issues, that they are different issues, (and) that the motives are different.”

Ms Webb instead described the alleged killings as being related to domestic violence and stalking.

Earlier in the morning, Ms Webb faced similar scrutiny from Today show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo who asked if she regretted the phrase “crime of passion”.

“Well, what I did say was it is a crime and it is a crime,” Ms Webb replied. “And of course, it’s (alleged) domestic violence, stalking and murder.”

Flowers outside Mr Baird’s home. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Police have searched waterways in Newcastle, a farm in Bungonia and homes in southern Sydney for the pair’s bodies. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Max Mason-Hubers

What I was intending is to say that it’s actually not a gay hate crime and not to be confused with the (inquiry into LQBTIQ hate crimes) and the results of that because this is different.”

Abo probed further, saying it is “important to get the wording right here”.

“Well, it certainly wasn’t my intention to offend anyone,” Ms Webb replied.

Questions over Webb’s leadership

On Monday, Ms Webb slammed suggestions there were questions about the future of her leadership as she made no immediate public address following the alleged murder of the couple or arrest of the serving police officer.

“That’s offensive. In fact I’ve already said this morning, on Friday I was in budget estimates which is a parliamentary hearing sworn on oath between nine and 5.30 in the day,” Ms Webb said on Monday.

“The accused handed himself in on Friday, he was charged on Friday. On Saturday morning, I attended the Sunrise event in Bronte Park … to remember those gay men that lost their lives there.”

Karen Webb speaks about alleged murders. Picture Sunrise.JPG
The top cop is facing serious criticism over her handling of the high-profile investigation. Picture: Sunrise

Striking a defiant tone, Ms Webb added: “Of course I’m doing my job. But I need to let my detectives do the job that I asked them to do.”

Late on Monday evening it was announced that Sydney Mardi Gras organisers had uninvited NSW police from marching in the parade this Saturday.

Ms Webb had previously ignored calls from the LGBTQIA+ community to withdraw.

“I am disappointed in the decision,” she told Sunrise.

“If it is the final decision, then I accept (it) but I will meet with the members of the board today because the actions of one person shouldn’t affect my whole workforce.”

Constable Lamarre-Condon is accused of killing Mr Baird and Mr Davies with a police-issued pistol inside the couple’s Paddington home on February 19.