Police were ‘incompetent, inept’ – Dotcom defence
"Not surprised. The STG had a touch of the Urewera fever."Featured comment
Kim Dotcom’s defence lawyer has labelled the police raid on the internet millionaire’s mansion in January “woefully incompetent.”
At a hearing at the Auckland High Court this week Paul Davison, QC, has been trying to prove the police raid was unreasonable and over-the-top.
Under questioning by Mr Davison, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald confirmed police did not mention in the search warrant that they would be using the special tactics group (STG) or the armed offenders squad.
Mr Wormald says police were under no legal obligation to disclose that information, but Mr Davison suggested had the judge known they would be so forceful, he might have attached conditions to the warrant.
Mr Davison says the raid was an “inept performance by the New Zealand police at all stages and at all levels of this operation.
“That extends to those who planned, approved, and executed this operation.
“It reveals that those responsible for the evaluation of the factors for and against the deployment of this tactic are shown to have been deficient in their judgment.”
Mr Davison says the ones who bore the brunt of this was Mr Dotcom, his wife, and their household.
“Their rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were cast aside while you single-mindedly executed such a warrant.”
The hearing is expected to conclude today, after which the Crown and the defence will file submissions to Justice Helen Winkelmann on whether any remedies should be given to Mr Dotcom.
UPDATE 1pm: The Crown has abandoned efforts to keep certain documents relating to the Kim Dotcom raid a secret.
Chief High Court judge Helen WIlkelmann yesterday ruled suppression was lifted on some police documents about the raid on Mr Dotcom’s mansion, but the Crown said it would appeal that decision.
It said if the documents, which include details of how police came to view Mr Dotcom as a dangerous target, were made public then future police operations could be hampered.
An urgent hearing was to be held at the Court of Appeal on Monday, but today Crown lawyer John Pike told Justice Winkelmann the Crown had abandoned the appeal.
He gave no reason for the decision.
The documents will now be released, but with the name of a certain police officer deleted.
Meanwhile, Mr Dotcom’s Queen’s counsel, Paul Davison, is continuing to question Detective Inspector Grant Wormald about why the police employed the special tactics group (STG) when they executed the raid.
He is accusing the police of being over-the-top by using two helicopters and officers armed with semi-automatic weapons to search the house.
Mr Wormald confirmed the FBI had told him Mr Dotcom might have had a device with which he could delete data from computer servers around the world at the push of a button.
Mr Davison has questioned that as a reason to use the STG, suggesting that to stop Mr Dotcom executing a deleting process he would have had to be detained within seconds, not minutes, as was the case during the raid.
The use of armed officers was also unnecessary because information from police officers who had previously been at Mr Dotcom’s mansion indicated security at the property was lax, says Mr Davison.
Mr Wormald says that information also includes warnings from the officers, including phrases such as, ‘don’t underestimate these guys.’
Yesterday, Mr Wormald admitted police anticipated their appoach to the raid could be seen by the public as "overzealous".