NSW Police refused to investigate blunder that led to murder of mother-of-four

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Michelle Reynolds and one of her four boys. Photo: Janie Barrett The bushland where the body of Michelle Reynolds was dumped. Photo: Frank Redward
Nanjing Night Net

Senior Constable Glen Roberts (left) with Megan Gale and unknown colleague.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the decision to prosecute Senior Constable Glen Roberts was a dreadful one. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

The Coffs Harbour motel where Wayne Jones murdered Michelle Reynolds. Photo: Frank Redward

Even after a mother had been brutally murdered by a violent criminal wrongly released from jail and a court had condemned its conduct as “inexplicable,” the NSW Police Force refused to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

Wayne Edward Jones is serving at least 20 years behind bars for the murder of Central Coast mother-of-four Michelle Reynolds whom he tortured, beat and strangled to death in December 2012.

A Fairfax Media investigation revealed on Sunday that Jones should have been in jail at the time but a string of drug charges were mysteriously withdrawn by someone within the force 14 months earlier, setting him free.

In an extraordinary sequence of events, the force later charged Sydney Senior Constable Glen Roberts – who had laid the charges against Jones – with fabricating “false evidence”.

In a concerted bid to prosecute and jail him, it then withheld “critical” evidence from the Department of Public Prosecutions and defence that not only confirmed the officer’s honesty, but also the charges laid.

After a court dismissed the case against Senior Constable Roberts in 2013 and awarded him costs, magistrate Graeme Curran slammed the force for concealing pivotal evidence which, had it not emerged, could have landed the officer in prison.

Fairfax Media can now reveal that when the exonerated officer subsequently requested an investigation into the police personnel who had freed a drug-crazed criminal and then tried to convict him, the force’s Professional Standards Command replied by saying “all matters” had been “declined for further investigation”. In doing so, it cited three factors under the Police Act that had assisted in its decision. One of those states: “The complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith.”

Greens MP and spokesman on justice David Shoebridge lashed out at the force on Sunday, stating an “oversight system with any integrity” would have immediately realised the seriousness of the court’s findings and “searched for answers”.

“The dreadful decision to prosecute Glen Roberts followed by the failure of the internal police investigation to correct even the most obvious errors left a violent predator at large. Tragically a life has been lost as a result.”

The force knew Jones only too well. In 2003, he smashed a woman so hard with a car “club lock”, it caused the left side of her face to collapse.

He was still on parole for that attack when, in April 2011, Senior Constable Roberts caught him red-handed on a Sydney street conducting a drug exchange involving heroin and ice. Yet in October 2011 all possession and supply charges were suddenly dropped against Jones and his co-accused. A little over a year later, he checked into a Coffs Harbour motel where, high on ice, he hogtied, tortured and strangled Ms Reynolds. The following day, he wrapped her body in bed sheets and dumped her in bushland.

Senior Constable Roberts said to this day he “fails to fathom” how his charges against Jones were dropped.

When Senior Constable Roberts’ case came before Sydney’s Downing Centre in 2013, it emerged the prosecution’s case hinged on one statement from a police brief handler who said Senior Constable Roberts had told her he “hadn’t actually seen” the transaction which led to Jones being charged.

Yet in the prosecution’s possession were testimonies from his patrol car colleague, an inspector and a sergeant on duty that night, all of which supported his version. Furthermore, the force was found to have withheld – for two years – a key statement from a female officer who had been called to scene and a recorded interview from Jones’ own co-accused who personally witnessed Roberts watch her take possession of the drugs: “I know you saw me … I spotted that,” she said.

Mr Curran later said: “That somebody had the material … and did not make that available … it seems to me that that is quite exceptional, quite unacceptable and as far as I am concerned, quite inexcusable in relation to the conduct of this matter before the court.”

After police refused to investigate the case, Senior Constable Roberts sought answers through freedom-of-information laws. Police have since denied him access to key documents on the grounds it would result in a “substantial adverse effect” on the agency’s “personnel management function”.

In the latest developments Fairfax Media can confirm the NSW Information Commissioner has reviewed that determination and in May wrote to the force recommending it “reconsider the decision and make a new decision”.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.