INQUIRY: Witness denies 'mafia' tag

DENIAL: Ex-police officer Troy Grant after giving evidence to the inquiry in Newcastle yesterday.  Picture: Darren Pateman
DENIAL: Ex-police officer Troy Grant after giving evidence to the inquiry in Newcastle yesterday. Picture: Darren Pateman

HE denies ever using the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’, but former police officer Troy Grant fired plenty of shots into senior Catholic clergy at the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle yesterday.

READ MR GRANT'S STATEMENT BELOW: 

Mr Grant, now the state MP for Dubbo, delivered a scathing assessment of ‘‘senior individuals within the Catholic Church’’, and in the process delivered a significant wound to the testimony of Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.

On Monday, Mr Fox told the inquiry that Mr Grant had warned him about a ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ existing within Newcastle’s police ranks which had hampered police investigations into paedophilia cover-ups within the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese.

Not true, Mr Grant told the inquiry yesterday, although ‘‘it’s a great phrase, a cracker of a phrase’’.

As a police officer, Mr Grant investigated and charged paedophile priest Vince Ryan in 1995. Ryan was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in jail for offences relating to 31 victims.

‘‘I had no, and saw no interference with my investigation,’’ he told the inquiry yesterday. ‘‘I had no adverse pressure from anyone in the NSW police service. In fact, it was a most successful investigation.’’

But he  received obstruction from Catholic clergy, he said.

Outside the commission yesterday, Mr Grant repeated  criticism  of the Department of Public Prosecutions for deciding, in 1996, not to charge Monsignor Patrick Cotter with concealing the crimes of paedophile priest Vince Ryan. Monsignor Cotter died in 2007.

He was particularly critical of a nun who visited his home and ‘‘provided me with false evidence and tipped off a priest’’ the night before Mr Grant arrested him.

Late yesterday, Mr Fox resumed his testimony and faced some aggressive cross-examination.

 Counsel for senior police Wayne Roser SC, accused Fox of lying to the commission about his contact with abuse victims after he had been ordered to cease such contact.

Mr Fox said he had been contacted by several victims who had felt bullied and harassed by police involved in the investigation and had sought his assistance.

‘‘Police aren’t important here,’’ Mr Fox said. ‘‘[These people] were victims and they were being treated like garbage.’’

The inquiry will continue today.

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Special Commission of Inquiry

STATEMENT

Troy Wayne Grant MLA

 Monday 29th April 2013 

1. This statement made by me accurately sets out the evidence that l would be prepared to give in evidence to a Special Commission Of Inquiry or any other related legal inquiry. The evidence is to the best of my knowledge and belief a true and accurate record and I make it knowing that if it is tendered in evidence I could be liable to prosecution for any statement made by me, that is not the truth the whole truth and nothing. but the truth so Help, me God.  

2. I am 43 years of age.

3. I am the Nationals Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly for the Electoral District of Dubbo and have held this position since the 26 March 2011. In addition I am the  Parliamentary Secretary for Natural. Resources and Committee Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly Social Committee.  

4. Prior to entering Parliament in 2011, I was a Constable of Police with the New South Wales Police Force joining the force on 30 October 1988 until resigning my Commission as an Inspector of Police On 26 March 2011.

5 . I cannot recall the timelines involved but I did have I believe two conversations with Detective Inspector Peter Fox after he took carriage of a Catholic Priest investigation/s in the Hunter. I cannot, recall who initiated that/those phone calls but it was on the premise of offering any assistance regarding material that I had seized that may be relevant and of assistance his inquiry, from my Catholic Priest investigation into Father Ryan and the Maitland/Newcastle Diocese.  I do not recall any specifics of his investigation/s and who he was investigating, the common names that we discussed were Bishop Michael Malone and his level of help or hindrance,  Monsignor Patrick Cotter who at some point passed away, Sister Evelyn Woodward and Father Brian Lucas. I believe I may have had one conversation with Inspector Fox prior to the death of Mons. Cotter and one post.    

6. I had limited dealings with Detective Inspector Fox during my career despite him being my supervisor at Cessnock Detectives office for a short time. I believe that I had no more than two phone calls with him regarding the Catholic Church, post that time. My observations were that he was meticulous in his investigations particularly the recording in his  Duty Book that would be the best source of any record of conversations between us. I had from recollection only one involvement with him over an investigation which was a drug and Outlaw Motorcycle Gang investigation at Wollombi. 

7. I can’t recall the specifics of our conversation/s or any references to a phrase such as the ‘Catholic Mafia’. It is not a phrase that I recall having ever heard or used. I certainly discussed with him the individuals and their roles in in my investigation.

8. At no time during my investigation did I encounter whatsoever any calculated hindrance  or obstruction from senior Police. I was only ever supported by the  Commander  of the Region Major Crime Squad Detective Chief Superintendent John Ure, Detective Senior Sergeant John Mooney and Detective Sergeant Rhonda Mulligan. While being the lead investigator, I was also supported by a large number of other police officers from the Major Crime Squad during during arrests, execution of search warrants, interviews and custody support during the investigation. I am aware that Detective Chief Superintendent Ure spoke to Bishop Clarke at the time of the arrest and  warrants execution then later,  joined the arrest team in Taree. Detective  Senior Sergeant Mooney spoke initially to Father Ryan at his arrest, then to  Father Brian Lucas and Father Bill Burston who were referred to provide  appropriate legal and personal support.

9. Given that I had no hindrance or obstruction from Police concerning any investigation I had no reason to discuss that with Peter Fox, nor do I recall  him disclosing to me any hindrance or obstruction regarding his investigation from Police.

10.In relation to any communications with Detective Inspector Peter Fox I can’t  recall other then one or two phone calls any other communications matters  relevant to the Inquiries terms of reference. I have provided a statement to  the NSW Police Force in mid 2011 regarding in frequent contact that has occurred between myself and Joanne McCarthy of the Newcastle Herald concerning a lack of action of a Catholic Priest investigation. I believe that  matter related to Dennis McAlinden but I cannot be sure. As I have stated I have no knowledge of nor do I know of any material that links any part of or Individual to my brief of evidence and investigation to any other investigation within the Maitland/Newcastle Diocese. 

This story INQUIRY: Witness denies 'mafia' tag first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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