A senior NSW police officer with a criminal record for assault, drink driving and attempting to flee from police (now known as ‘Skye’s law’) – and who was reportedly instrumental in botching a recent drug case and triggering a homophobic investigation into gay colleagues – has been allowed to remain on the police force.
Damian Goodfellow has somehow evaded dismissal despite two recommendations that he be removed from the force.
In 1999, a recommendation was made for Goodfellow’s dismissal after he and another officer punched a third off-duty officer during a drunken brawl at a one-day cricket international at the SCG. Goodfellow received a criminal record for assault and was fined over the incident.
After receiving a second chance by then Police Commissioner Peter Ryan, Goodfellow engaged in criminal conduct again in 2002. While drink driving, Goodfellow attempted to flee a police breath test and ended up crashing into an unmarked patrol car. Despite Commissioner Ryan finally issuing a dismissal notice, incoming Commissioner Ken Moroney overturned that notice and gave Goodfellow yet another chance.
Incidentally, Commissioner Moroney is reported to have delivered a speech at Goodfellow’s wedding to fellow officer Carlee Mahoney, who is the daughter of then Assistant Commissioner Reg Mahoney.
A number of police officers were reportedly outraged that their colleagues had been dismissed for far less, questioning the influence of the family link.
Less than 12 months after this second reprieve, Goodfellow was in the news again as one of four off-duty officers hospitalised after a brawl inside a Kings Cross strip club. This time, Goodfellow’s commanding officer Dave Darcy stuck up for the group, saying “It could just as well have been any group of young people who happened to be visiting a strip club”.
As acting Kings Cross Crime Manager in 2011, Detective Inspector Goodfellow is reported to have filed a report to the Professional Standards Command resulting in a string of drug charges being inexplicably dropped against Nomad motorcycle club member Wayne Edward Jones.
A year later, Mr Jones tortured and strangled to death mother-of-four Michelle Reynolds.
Then, as the Newtown Crime Manager, Goodfellow recommended a covert operation against openly gay male officers within the command on the basis of their supposed illicit drug use. It is reported that on Inspector Goodfellow’s direction, an eight-man strike force codenamed ‘Andro’ was established which is estimated to have cost $250,000 in wages alone.
Former Senior Constable Christian McDonald, and three serving officers, Christopher Sheehy, Shane Housego and Steven Rapisarda took the NSW Police Force to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and the NSW Anti-discrimination Board (ADB) over the operation.
The ADB accepted the officers’ complaints on the basis that the operation delved into their private lives for six months without any evidence of wrongdoing.
Broader cultural problem
The case of Damian Goodfellow may be seen as reflective of broader systemic problems within the NSW Police Force – with officers who swear to uphold and enforce the law being allowed to remain on the force despite committing crimes, ironically and perhaps hypocritically investigating and prosecuting others for criminal conduct.
Indeed, it was recently revealed that hundreds of serving NSW police officers have been convicted of criminal offences. A total of 595 convictions were recorded against 437 officers, representing one in 40 officers on the force. The convictions include assaults, break and enters, and fraud offences.
Recently, the NSW Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, indicated he will recommend criminal charges against current and former NSW police officers for illegally bugging several journalists and over 100 other officers, including former Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, with the proliferation of CCTV cameras and social media resulting in the broadcast of police misconduct on a near-daily basis.
Predictably, NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant denies there is a culture of misconduct. “The cultural issues of the force are quite simple, that we insist on integrity and very high levels of standards,” he said.
The facts, figures and footage, however, tell a very different story.