Police knew Dotcom raid would be seen as 'overzealous' – top cop
"This Hollywood inspired theatre of a raid on Dotcom was not their finest hour."Featured comment
The police officer in charge of the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion is defending the use of helicopters and armed officers, despite concerns it would be seen as “overzealous”.
Mr Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison, QC, is questioning Detective Inspector Grant Wormald as part of a hearing at the Auckland High Court into the reasonableness of the police raid in January.
Mr Wormald has read his original affidavit to the court, in which he says one of the “biggest concerns was there would be criticism that we were taking an overzealous approach".
“Dealing with bad PR, however, cannot be seen as a reason not to conduct an operation safely.”
Mr Wormald justified the use of helicopters, saying Mr Dotcom was seen as a flight risk.
Police were concerned Mr Dotcom could get access to one of his “powerful” vehicles and run away if the police weren’t quick, he said.
“In his time in New Zealand, he had been dealt with twice by police for driving with excessive speed.”
Mr Wormald’s affidavit refers to clips which showed Mr Dotcom driving fast and erratically, and ignoring police checkpoints.
He also said there was a concern of guns being at the property, which was based on photographs of Mr Dotcom positioned in front of his vehicles holding guns.
The hearing continues.
Chief High Court judge Helen Winkelmann has permanently ordered the media not to publish any codes or call signs used during the January raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.
The Crown wants them to remain a secret because they could hamper future police investigations.
The raid is the subject of a three-day hearing at the Auckland High Court which is due to conclude today.
The court has heard from a senior police officer involved with the special tactics group during the raid.
A video of police helicopter footage of the raid has also been shown, with audio of the police radio during the event.
The Crown wanted details of the police codes, call signs and names revealed in the video and associated documents to remain secret.
However, despite pleas from the media for those to be made public, Justice Winkelmann has ruled they should stay secret, except for one code which is already in the public domain, Zero Alpha.
Mr Dotcom’s lawyer Willie Akel argued there is nothing to be gained by keeping them a secret, and the issue needs a “reality check”.
Justice Winkelmann also granted media access to certain police documents relating to the raid, but the Crown has appealed this so they will remain suppressed until at least later today.
Mr Dotcom's lawyers are arguing police were over the top in the way they undertook the raid.
A senior police officer involved in leading the raid has been giving evidence.
Mr Dotcom earlier claimed he was roughly handled by police when they found him and was punched in the head.
However, the officer says he didn’t see any punching or kicking.
“When he was pulled down onto the floor, the standard procedure is to get people spread eagle.
“What did happen was one of those officers stood on [Kim Dotcom’s] hand.”
Mr Dotcom's QC Paul Davison suggested the officer stood on Mr Dotcom’s hand until it was bleeding; far longer than the foot needed to be there.
The officer denied this, but said a “deliberate” amount of force was used.
Mr Davison also referred to evidence by Mr Dotcom’s bodyguard Wayne Tempero, in which he describes the officer as “yelling and shouting at us from close range when it was not necessary to do so”.
“You appeared to be over-excited and hyped up,” Mr Davison said to the officer.
The policeman replied: “No, it was a more conversational tone.
“This operation was not what we’d call ‘high end’, and there was no shouting required.”
The hearing continues.
The Crown is still determined to keep documents and strategy relating to the police raid on Kim Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion a secret.
A three-day hearing is continuing at the Auckland High Court, where Mr Dotcom’s lawyers are arguing the January raid on his house was unreasonable.
Witnesses include Mr Dotcom himself, who yesterday described the events of the day, and senior police officers – unable to be identified because of suppression orders – who were involved in the planning and execution of the raid.
The court is also being shown police helicopter footage of the raid, which includes police radio communication.
The Crown doesn’t want the public to know details about the strategy used by the special tactics group.
It has asked Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann to suppress documents which refer to the tactics used by police, including call signs and codes.
Crown lawyer Fergus Sinclair argued: “There can be no substantial public interest in a technical detail like that.”
He says the police are concerned future police operations could be hampered if details of the strategy they use are out in the public arena.
The Crown has agreed to release a transcript of the police audio from the raid, but on the condition names, codes and call signs are blanked out.
However, some members of the media objected to the suppression, telling the court those codes are already publicly available on the internet.
Justice Winkelmann has ordered those details to remain secret for now, plus selected pages of secretive “blue book”, which contains police documents relating to the raid.
A senior police officer involved in the raid is continuing to give evidence today.
|Minute of Justice Winkelmann (PDF)||69.31 KB|