By Jin Kok
The Brisbane Coroners Court has heard today that a “deficient and overly biased” investigation into a Queensland police officer’s disappearance in September 2009 should be the focus of an upcoming inquest.
Senior Sergeant Mick Isles disappeared while on his way to a training seminar in Townsville.
His car, uniform and police swipe card were found in a dry creek bed 80km southwest of Ayr five days later, but he has never been found.
Stephen Isles urged the state coroner Michael Barnes to explore what he described the “disgraceful” events that unfolded after his father had disappeared.
Mr Isles told the pre-inquest hearing that his family felt investigators had dismissed the matter as a suicide and failed to explore the possibility he may have been murdered.
He said he believed they reached this conclusion because his father had a history of mental health issues.
The court heard Snr Sgt Isles had returned to work following prolonged stress and sick leave just days before his disappearance.
The court heard he had also battled cancer.
“There is a chance, certainly, that my father has suicided; there is also a chance that my father’s disappearance involved foul play,” Mr Isles said.
He said it was setting a “dangerous precedent” to assume self-harm simply because of these issues.
Counsel assisting Mr Barnes Peter Johns said Snr Sgt Isles had been investigated over alleged drug trafficking and money laundering, but he had been cleared of all allegations.
Mr Isles said his father had been treated badly during the investigation, which involved the Crime and Misconduct Commission, and had been targeted by senior police.
Mr Johns said it was clear Snr Sgt Isles “suffered a great deal of stress” throughout the investigation, but he said there may be “limited utility” in revisiting issues relating to the CMC investigation.
He told the court a subsequent parliamentary review had found most aspects of the CMC investigation were satisfactory.
Mr Johns said the inquest should focus on whether QPS personnel had carried out appropriate strategies to help Snr Sgt Isles return to work after his extended leave.
He also said the inquest would focus on the adequacy of the search and the delay in Snr Sgt Isles being reported missing.
Mr Johns said 13 witnesses would be called.
Snr Sgt Isles’ family – who are representing themselves – have been given until July to make written submissions, after which a date will be set for the inquest.