A police sergeant sacked for allegedly not reporting senior officers had eaten hash cookies during a drug-fuelled "boys' weekend" will keep his job after a second attempt to kick him out of the force failed.
The Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission last week rejected a bid by the NSW Police Commissioner to appeal against the reinstatement of Sergeant Roderick Morris, a 24-year veteran of the force.
Sergeant Morris joined a group of former and serving police officers who had played with the NSW Police rugby league team for a weekend away on the Gold Coast in 2010.
Hidden cameras had been installed in the Broadbeach unit before the event in a joint operation by NSW and Queensland anti-corruption authorities.
The footage allegedly recorded some officers consuming illegal drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana cookies as well as binge drinking.
Shane Diehm, a former detective inspector stationed at Byron Bay, was subsequently convicted of lying to the Police Integrity Commission and jailed for six months. The jail term and conviction were later quashed on appeal and replaced with a two-year good behaviour bond.
Sergeant Morris denied eating a hash cookie himself and said he hadn't seen the cocaine and ecstasy.
However he was suspended in August 2013 and ultimately sacked in March 2016 for failing to report the consumption and supply of cannabis by his colleagues, including one who was his direct supervisor.
Six months later he was reinstated after the Industrial Relations Commission found the sacking was harsh and unreasonable. The decision was stayed pending an appeal.
In reinstating Sergeant Morris, Commissioner Peter Newall found that, in putting himself in the situation and then failing to report the criminal activity, Sergeant Morris did not act differently to the more senior officers present and it is a "rare subordinate" who would have done so in the circumstances.
Mr Newall ordered he retain his rank of Sergeant, although he would forgo six months' salary.
He said there was a public benefit in retaining such an experienced and commended officer capable of providing leadership to junior officers.
The Commissioner of Police sought leave to appeal, arguing the decision had "significant ramifications for the integrity and culture" of the force by elevating the "bonds of loyalty about the statutory obligation of a sworn police officer to report the misconduct of a colleague".
Appearing for the Commissioner, barrister Kate Eastman SC said the effect of the decision was that "a police officer may come forward who knowingly breaches his duty but points to a bond of loyalty to his colleagues and long-standing friends to say that his conduct either should be excused or should be mitigated".
In handing down its decision last week, the Full Bench said the "bonds of loyalty" issue had been "blown out of all proportion". It dismissed the suggestion the case would set a precedent that police officers who fail to report suspected illegal activity would be immune from scrutiny.
Sergeant Morris was represented before the Full Bench by Arthur Moses SC.
The story Sergeant avoids sack after keeping mum on colleagues' drug-fuelled 'boys weekend' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.