By: Elizabeth Daoud
NSW Police detectives investigating the alleged rape of a South Australian woman by former attorney-general Christian Porter in Sydney were blocked from travelling to Adelaide to interview her.
Sex crimes investigators had requested approval for travel to Adelaide during COVID border closures in March 2020 so the woman could make a statement, a 69-page dossier released by the NSW Parliament reveals.
Porter strenuously denies the woman’s allegation and has launched defamation proceedings against the ABC over its original reporting of it.
The documents, seen by 7NEWS.com.au, also revealed police emailed the alleged victim just two days before she died by suicide in June 2020.
The documents reveal the woman said she was prepared to make a statement about the alleged 1988 rape in February 2020, after originally reporting the matter to SA Police in November 2019.
Later that month, she met with NSW Police detectives in Sydney but the meeting was “on short notice”.
She was then advised she could either return to Sydney to complete her statement, or detectives could travel to Adelaide to complete the statement.
“(The alleged victim) advised she would prefer investigators to travel to South Australia so she could have a support person available whilst making her statement,” background information on the dossier reveals.
The request for detectives to travel to SA was approved by the NSW Police Sex Crimes squad commander on March 10, before being rejected three days later by NSW deputy police commissioner Dave Hudson.
“Insufficient detail provided by SCC to justify why this travel cannot be deferred in accordance with Commissioners Direction and Government Policy precluding international travel and restricting interstate travel to operational necessity,” Hudson wrote, according to the documents.
The documents also revealed the woman “expressed her desire to commence her statement as soon as possible by telephone call or a Skype video call” in a conversation with investigators in March.
Emails in the dossier show detectives were still in contact with the woman in April 2020.
“Victim statement – our position at this stage is to hold off from commencing the statement,” an email between investigators says.
“We will reassess this position in one month’s time and if the current restrictions as a result of COVlD-19 are still in place then we will look at alternatives.”
Then, in an email on April 26, police said they had again spoken to the woman, who said she was “resigned” to COVID restrictions in place at the time.
“She’s currently doing well, but has basically resigned to the fact that it might be September-ish before things return to ‘normal’,” the email reads.
“Given this apparent change in urgency, I asked if she is happy to hold off and reassess again in another 4 weeks. She is happy with that arrangement.”
Accuser ‘keen’ to make statement
In a later email on April 30, NSW detectives wrote to SA police about the possibility they might interview the woman.
“While she was initially very keen to commence her statement as soon as possible, she is now quite understanding of the current travel restrictions and is now happy to wait until these are eased and we are able to travel to SA again to obtain her statement,” the email says.
“On receipt of your email, I discussed the matter with D/Sgt Beacroft, and confirmed that we are happy to continue with the original plan for us to obtain a statement once we can.”
Months later, on June 22, the documents reveal NSW Police emailed the woman for a welfare check.
“At 17:28 on Monday 22/06/2020, DSC BERNASCONI sent an email to seeking her availability for a follow up phone call in the coming days (victim welfare check and travel status update),” documents revealed.
What followed has been redacted from the dossier, however, it’s known the woman told police on June 23 she no longer wanted to proceed with a statement.
She died the next day.
Greens MP David Shoebridge slammed the decision to block detectives from travelling to SA.
“The Greens forced the release of these documents through a motion in the NSW Upper House,” he said in a statement to 7NEWS.com.au.
“It’s hard to believe that NSW Police rejected all three opportunities to take a statement from the complainant, by travel to SA, by video-link and through SA Police.
“Despite support from three senior police in the sex crime squad and from the head of the State Crime Command the travel request was denied by a deputy police commissioner because he didn’t think it was essential.
“This decision is deeply troubling because I can’t imagine something more important or essential for the NSW Police than investigating an alleged sexual assault,” he said.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call:
- 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
- 24-hour emergency accommodation helpline on 1800 800 588
- Safe At Home helpline on 1800 633 937
- Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811
- Family Violence Crisis and Support Service on 1800 608 122
- Bravehearts sexual assault support for children on 1800 BRAVE 1
- Lifeline on 13 11 14