Proceedings 24th February 1988
The disciplinary hearing was held at Police Headquarters, Prospect, the presiding Officer was Mr Moniz with the Prosecuting Officer Chief Inspector Larry Smith (Western Division).
The evidence for the prosecution was, in the main, given by sergeant Adams who advised as follows:
Sergeant Adams was aware of the procedure for checking properties against a list of a night duty, he was a Western Division officer stationed at Somerset police station, as were oficer6 and officer8. When officer6 and officer8 had completed their tour of duty, 8am Sunday 23rd August, sergeant Adams was on the following shift, 8am to 4pm, Sunday 23rd August 1987.
Not too long after sergeant Adams had commenced his duty there was a 'suspects on' call to a shop; The Railway Station, Mangrove Bay Road, Somerset. It was Sunday, the shop was not open for business and yet it was being reported that someone was inside the building.
On the arrival of sergeant Adams, two people were in the shop; Mr and Mrs Papageorge, tourists from the United States. Sergeant Adams spoke with these people who advised him that they had seen two other people leave the shop and a schoolgirl.
The Papageorge's went on their way.
Sergeant Adams however, considered that if the Papageorge's were on the premises early on a Sunday morning when the shop had not been opened by the owner (Mrs Bean) it followed that they must have been insecure, unlocked. In turn he assumed that if the premises were insecure, they could not have been checked the previous evening. If the premises had not been checked, someone was neglecting their duty.
Having considered these 'facts' sergeant Adams submitted a complaint against the officer responsible for checking the premises the previous evening.
The complaint was irresponsible, foolish and malicious, one can only guess what sergeant Adams was attempting to achieve. The complaint was illogical and whilst the situation needed to be addressed, unfortunately sergeant Adams approach was naive to the extreme.
When asked by officer6 to consider the case, based on his account, it appeared sergeant Adams had set himself up for a fall (more correctly; a fool), I was not to be disappointed. Indeed, possibly with hindsight, sergeant Adams appeared to be having second thoughts about the complaint (see: 2nd December 1987)
Sergeant Adams gave 'evidence' and I questioned him on the following areas:
Sergeant Adams, having attended The Railway Station and found two people at the location, was the best only person able to comment on what the Papageorge's had said. The Papageorge's had advised having seen others leave the address but no further information had been forthcoming.
The store owner had yet to attend, it was therefore not possible to state whether anything was missing i.e. had the people seen by the Papageorge's been burglar's who had made off with goods?
Who were the Papageorge's? American tourists who had gone shopping on a Sunday? Two innocent people who had walked into a shop in which there were no assistants and was otherwise quiet?
Or were the Papageorge's a couple of opportunist thieves? Here was an open shop with no about, why not take advantage?
Of course, the above assumes the shop was open when they arrived, as they described. Who could corroborate this? No one.
So, we have two unknown people, tourists, in a shop which is unattended early on a Sunday morning and sergeant Adams thoughts turn to who was responsible for checking the address the night before!
One hypothesis: the Papageorge's were thieves, they enjoyed Bermuda's lax security. Here was a premises which was secured at the front with a single bolt. Not an overly complex mechanism to overcome indeed, as was heard during the proceedings, it was possible the bolt had only been paced in the 1/2 locked position. Having made their entry, the Papageorge's could now look about for cash or small valuables, property easily carried that would not attract attention. But, before (we assume) they are able to do so, sergeant Adams arrives. I suspect they could not believe their luck, here was an officer who, rather than consider them suspects, appeared more interested in the discipline aspect.
The Papageorge's went on their way.
You may consider my comments a little unfair on sergeant Adams. After all, the island needs tourists and it is important to create a good impression. I am not suggesting the Papageorge's should have been frog-marched to the station and interrogated. But sergeant Adams,in effect, did nothing.
I asked sergeant Adams for the full names of the Papageorge's, their dates of birth and their address in the United States. These could not be provided because sergeant Adams had not thought to obtain them.
I was now unable to contact two 'witnesses'. Furthermore, it was apparent sergeant Adams had conducted no further enquiries of the Papageorge's, no discrete fax (via the intelligence unit) to the U.s. to confirm the island was not playing host to criminals. Sergeant Adams could not even submit a comprehensive report of his actions, he had no detail to submit.
What of the comments made by the Papageorge's about the persons seen to leave before them. Were these remarks recorded in sergeant Adam's pocket book? No! All that was present in his pocket book were a couple of lines, the content was absolutely useless. The tribunal only had the word of sergeant Adams that the Papageorge's made the comments he could now only recall from memory.
Contrary to police procedure, this sergeant, had made no original notes. This was a neglect of duty, an act of incompetence.
But there was a 'back up' system. We had a computer on which to record incidents. Sergeant Adams, having been assigned to the report at The Railway Station, was required to update the computer entry. This involved entering details of the parties involved in the incident. Any person associated with the 'event' (an event number was created automatically when the report was received at police H.Q.) was to be entered on the computer at the very least the Papageorges should have been assigned a civil or subject number (identifying their status - as opposed to having been arrested).
The print-out of the record was produced at the hearing. Other than the initial report to the premises, nothing had been included. No names etc. had been associated with the entry, the report was, in effect, blank. Sergeant Adams was asked to account for this; his reply: It was a new system, he did not understand it fully and therefore had not known what to do.
This was a supervisory officer admitting he had failed to acquaint himself with equipment he was expected to oversee and ensure records were completed correctly. Another act of negligence on sergeant Adam's part.
Sergeant Adams had no information about the Papageorge's. The investigation should have come to a halt there, sergeant Cleave, the investigating officer, had no means by which to contact the Papageorge's and therefore no 'evidence' could be obtained from them or their antecedents enquired upon. The continuity from the time the premises were checked to the discovery of the Papageorge's at the location was ruined. But then no one could account for what had happened during this period.
This was negligible. No one could say whether the premises had on had not been locked the night before. If the premises had not been bolted shut, this should have been discovered by the officers. If the premises were bolted then it follows the officers would have found the premises secure and thought nothing more of it.
As no one, with any certainty, could confirm the property was left insecure, it follows the officers should be given the benefit of the doubt and it should be accepted that the premises were left secure.
So when did the premises become 'insecure'. The answer to that could not possibly be proved. No one could say that a break-in did not occur, albeit there was no damage. The prosecution appeared to be basing their assumptions on the fact that no damage had been discovered and therefore no one had forced entry. This was a fundamental error.
If we accept the Papageorge's account; that they saw two people leave prior to their entry, then the prosecution case becomes all the more clouded. There were a further two potential burglars. Was it they who had entered (without causing damage) and been disturbed by the arrival of the Papageorge's? Who knows? Certainly the prosecution did not.
No one could comment on the security at the premises other than the officers who checked it. At the time of their visit, the property was secure.
The Railway Station was a retail shop. By reference to the list of properties to be checked, the sheet of paper on which each addresses appeared, it was evident The Railway Station did not appear.
It followed there was no obligation placed on a officer to check the address.
The complaint should never have been made, the investigation should have considered or uncovered the above. Instead, apparently on the basis officer8 had admitted the offence, the matter was before a presiding Officer at a disciplinary hearing.
During the 'trial' three incidents occurred which, I believe are worthy of note, these are dealt with on the next page; 'asides'
For details of the defence I put forward please see: Submission for the Defence
If you just want the outcome click on 'the verdict'
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