A NSW solicitor has called for an investigation into members of a high-level police taskforce targeting bikies after officers allegedly stalked and intimidated him.
Greg Coombes, a lawyer in Grafton in the state’s north, was due to represent a client associated with the Gladiators bikie gang last Tuesday when members of Strike Force Raptor allegedly began to follow him from his home.
Mr Coombes said he was now considering whether to seek apprehended violence orders against the officers and charges against them for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Having complained to local police and a magistrate hearing the bikie matter, he was also finalising a complaint to the independent Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.
Mr Coombes said he first noticed a police vehicle driving slowly outside his home about 6.30am on May 28.
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“I actually waved to them because I have a fantastic relationship with local police,” Mr Coombes told the Herald.
However, the police car then parked near his house, in a quiet residential area, first in a neighbour’s driveway and then in a vacant lot, he said.
Mr Coombes claimed the car then followed him when he left in his own car, turned on its pursuit lights and pulled him over. Two officers introduced themselves as members of Strike Force Raptor, the organised crime squad dedicated to outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The officers said they intended to give him an infringement notice for failing to indicate when he reversed out of his driveway, Mr Coombes said. After he drove off, the police allegedly pulled him over again after a few blocks, this time saying they needed to inspect his vehicle for defects.
Mr Coombes said they told him the car would need to be towed but a later inspection found no repairs were required.
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After walking home, Mr Coombes said he then saw the police car parked near his house in the vacant block. It allegedly followed Mr Coombes and his girlfriend when they took a taxi to his office. The police then confronted the taxi driver saying he had failed to indicate, he said.
Mr Coombes said the police hung about in the carpark near his office, prompting him to complain to Sergeant Adam Brown of Grafton Local Police. He said he requested an adjournment from the local magistrate, detailing the police actions in court, but they continued to hang about near his office until mid-afternoon.
The next day the same two officers were in a carpark to the rear of his office, where they left an excessive noise notice on his motorbike although it had been parked for about four hours, the lawyer said.
“It’s just not right,” Mr Coombes said. “If I deal with Raptor again I would like it to be on a fair playing field because I’m certainly not following them or their girlfriends.”
In response to questions, a NSW Police spokeswoman said only “at this time, NSW Police have not received a formal report on this matter”.
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Established in 2009, Strike Force Raptor targets “groups and individuals who engage in serious and organised crime, in particular those who have a propensity for violence,” the police website said.
“This is achieved with proactive investigations and intelligence based, high-impact policing operations.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald