Sydney cop's anonymous tip-off 'horrible'

·3-min read

A Sydney highway patrol officer has faced a court after anonymously reporting an off-duty colleague was at a primary school with a gun.

While one chief inspector dubbed the tip-off "a horrible act", Ricky Wayne Colbron's lawyer said she was "at a loss" as to why her client is being prosecuted for public mischief when "everything seems to be true".

Colbron has pleaded not guilty to public mischief over the call to the Police Assistance Line on July 1, 2020.

The tip caused armed plains clothes officers to confront Leading Senior Constable Michael Ide in his car outside a Malabar primary school to confirm his identity.

L/Sen Const Ide put his hands up when the officers approached, thinking "this could go either way".

"There was a lot of families waiting around for their kids so it was pretty embarrassing," L/Sen Const Ide told Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday.

Colbron's anonymous tip, made while on-duty but from his personal phone, gave a description of a person armed with a gun who "may or may not be a police officer" that had exited a particular car and entered the school premises.

The urgent job broadcast on police radio was downgraded within minutes after officers identified the subject and Colbron radioed for cars to "stand by for a sec ... I'm making inquiries."

L/Sen Const Ide told the court he never left his car.

Colbron's lawyer Leah Rowan questioned what false information was contained in the call, given L/Sen Const Ide was found outside the school, while armed.

Prosecutor Shaun Croner said the tip-off was "plainly a false representation" because Colbron knew the man was a police officer.

The call sparked an investigation, with a chief inspector finding the method for the tip "strange".

After hearing a tape of the call, he formed the view "a horrible act had occurred".

"(I found it horrible) a person would try and set up his work colleague," Chief Inspector Paul Fownes said.

But he didn't investigate the conduct of L/Sen Const Ide - a friend.

"I'm quite comfortable with the fact he picked up his children with his firearm on," he said, pointing out taking the gun home was authorised.

The superior, who rejected an "appalling" suggestion he was part of a drinking circle with his friend, said he was unaware until Thursday that officer Ide was seen on police car video walking from the school grounds with children while armed and off-duty on June 29, 2020.

That video, the court was told, led Colbron and a friendly colleague to take steps to report the conduct.

They approached an officer at another station, concerned about being bullied if they took it to their superiors.

"We didn't want to make a complaint where our names were brought into it," Sen Const Mitchell Heydon said.

He denied knowing Colbron was going to make the call.

Colbron approached NSW Police Force's internal investigation unit for advice about reporting the June 29 incident, the court was told.

The advice said the Police Assistance Line could be used for anonymous tip-offs about possible police misconduct.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.

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