O Callaghan defends Buswell crash probe
O'Callaghan defends Buswell crash probe

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has defended the investigation into Troy Buswell's late-night car rampage after a parliamentary inquiry found the police response was inadequate.

Mr Buswell quit cabinet following revelations he had a mental breakdown after crashing into parked cars, a pole and the front gate of his Subiaco home while returning from a wedding in the early hours of February 23.

The opposition-instigated inquiry examined matters including how police investigated the crashes on the night, the subsequent conduct of the investigation and collection of evidence, the decision to prosecute and the charges laid.

It found numerous failings in the police investigation and noted it was left to the media to join the dots about what really happened.

But Mr O'Callaghan said the review was a minority report and the committee clearly was not able to agree on its own findings.

“I am perfectly happy with the way they (the officers) handled it on the night,” he said.

“They had no idea about the damage that had been caused anywhere else at that stage.

“It was a situation where they made a decision based on the information that was at hand.”

Mr O'Callaghan said if there was a problem, it was with the computer systems which were now being upgraded.

“There are problems with the systems connecting with each other and that is a legacy issue from years before,” he said.

“As we explained to the committee, we are in the process of building a new CAD (computer aided dispatch system), it is currently 1990’s technology.”

Mr O'Callaghan also blamed MP’s for not providing the police dignitary protection unit with their current address.

“I am not going to chase them around and wipe their noses for them,” he said.

Mr Buswell was fined $3100 and disqualified from driving for one year after he admitted to 11 traffic offences committed during the ill-fated journey, but did not face drink-driving charges because he was not breathalysed on the night.

Police went to Mr Buswell's home following a tip off from a member of the public who reported seeing a man who resembled the treasurer barely able to stand as he struggled to get into the property.

But when they arrived, the lights were off, the gate was closed and no-one was around.

The traffic offence charges including failing to stop after an accident were only laid after the scandal was exposed in the media.

"The Committee has come to the conclusion that there was a systemic failure at a number of levels on the evening," the report on the inquiry read on Thursday.

"There was an inadequate police response. Dignitary Protection were unaware of the then state Treasurer's car registration or home address, police subsequently let any investigation lapse and left it to the media to join the dots."

The committee said police did not make the connection between the report of erratic driving outside Mr Buswell's home and the smashed cars parked in nearby streets.

"No follow-up occurred between the taking of these initial reports and media reports which surfaced some weeks later," the committee said.

"Only at that time, when police came under public scrutiny, did they spring into action.

"By that time, however, long after the event, any deficiencies in the original investigation could not readily be corrected."
The committee said the investigation was then conducted under the false assumption that no charges could be laid in the absence of a breathalyser reading.

The West Australian

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