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Senior police officer 'shut down' abuse inquiry

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An assistant police commissioner ordered detectives to stop investigating four pedophiles, the royal commission into sexual abuse has heard.

Detective Sergeant Leonid Mosheev told the inquiry yesterday that in September 1993 he had seized a large volume of material, including pornographic photos, from Adelaide school bus driver Brian Perkins.

But not long after he was directed not to look at the exhibits or continue inquiries, which meant he could only rely on material obtained in August 1991.

He said the direction came from then-assistant commissioner Colin Watkins after Operation Deny was set up in September 1993 to investigate four pedophiles, including Perkins.

“It was categoric. We were not to investigate to find any more victims,” Mosheev said on Tuesday at the commission’s Adelaide hearing into Perkins’ sexual abuse of boys at the Catholic St Ann’s Special School for children.

“We were to finalise our current brief of evidence and we were just to finish that off.”

Officers became angry at the instruction but were “scared absolutely out of our wits” of high-ranking officers and he could not disobey a senior officer, he said.

Retired officer John Bean said many photos of boys being sexually abused were in the possession of Operation Deny detectives and formed the basis for the arrests of Perkins and three other men.

Watkins personally directed him to complete the investigations in three weeks, despite being told it was insufficient time and that the boys had not been identified, Bean said.

“He told me to find enough evidence to convict all of them in that time or shut down the investigation,” he said.

Earlier, Mosheev said he could not recall seeing a statement that could have led to the arrest of Perkins when they first searched his home in August 1991.

He had no memory of the statement, made on August 17 at the police station where he worked, referring to Perkins’s sexual activities.

Rather, he believed he searched the home after an anonymous tip-off that Perkins had photos of nude boys.

Police seized two canisters of film, later found to contain images of two naked boys from the school, but when they returned on August 26, Perkins no longer lived there.

He was not arrested until September 1993, but later skipped bail and was not extradited back to South Australia until 2001.

In 2003, he pleaded guilty to sex charges related to boys at the school and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail, where he died in 2009.

The hearing is continuing.

 

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