Samuel Narroway posed as a SafeWork SA inspector in a series of bizarre incidents at the Adelaide head office of taxi company Yellow Cab, a police station, two Target stores, a KFC outlet and two homes between late 2013 and early 2014.
He pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined $15,000 in the Magistrates Court last month.
Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke ruled that Narroway’s offences “involved risk to the community, damage to the credibility of SafeWork SA and to professional work health safety consultants”.
“They involved significant planning and some were executed with an alarming level of intimidation,” his judgement says.
In one of the incidents, in February 2014, Narroway arrived at a KFC outlet in Elizabeth, introducing himself as “Sam from SafeWork SA”, Lieschke’s judgement says.
Narroway claimed he needed to inspect the site due to a photo that had gone viral on social media and caused the store significant negative publicity six months earlier.
Asked for identification by a store supervisor, Narroway produced a badge with the words “private detective” on it.
When the supervisor refused him entry into the store, Narroway claimed he had the power to arrest any employee that refused him entry.
When he was eventually allowed to enter the store, the judgement says, Narroway looked at the store’s fire extinguishers, asked where money was kept and asked to see safety documents before leaving, indicating there were “no serious issues” and there was little chance of further action being taken.
When later interviewed, Narroway denied having presented himself as a SafeWork inspector.
In a separate offence the following week, Narroway presented an affidavit to the Elizabeth police station in which he claimed to be a SafeWork inspector and recommended that police prosecute a hairdressing salon for having an unsafe workplace.
The affidavit contained Narroway’s version of events regarding a disturbance at the Smithfield salon.
When interviewed, he could not recall providing an affidavit to police.
Lieschke ruled that “the attempt to mislead the police and the associated recommendation to prosecute was naive but extremely bold”.
Earlier in 2014, Narroway entered the head office of Yellow Cab presenting himself as a SafeWork inspector, claiming he had a summons or subpoena for the contact details of a the owner and driver of a taxi.
The manager observed Narroway’s car to be a white Commodore station wagon, covered with prominent green and yellow safety signs.
According the judgement, Narroway claimed a Yellow Cab taxi driver had been driving unsafely and warned, falsely, he had the power to detain, pending police attendance.
Narroway suggested the driver would be fined up to $5000 for dangerous driving, and imprisoned for abusing a SafeWork inspector.
Lieschke ruled the offence “likely arose from an occasion of Mr Narroway’s aggressive driving”.
That afternoon, Narroway arrived at the front door of the 71-year-old taxi owner’s home, presenting a silver star-shaped badge and claiming to be a SafeWork inspector.
He claimed that the Yellow Cab taxi driver had run a SafeWork vehicle off the road and warned the driver could be fined, and forced to display a sign saying ‘unsafe workplace’, the judgement says.
That evening, Narroway visited the house of the taxi driver, threatening to impose a $2000 fine “if he was not telling the truth” and claiming SafeWork inspectors had “more powers than police in these matters”.
The driver recalled that he had had a minor encounter with a SafeWork SA vehicle the previous day.
The driver said he gave the driver of a SafeWork car “the bird” after it had sped up as he was attempting to enter heavy traffic on Main North Road.
When questioned about the incidents by SafeWork SA investigators, Narroway denied presenting himself as an official inspector at the Yellow Cab head office, and denied visiting the homes of both the taxi owner and taxi driver.
He also denied having written notes that related to the driver that were found in a notebook seized from him – although he conceded the handwriting was similar to his.
Prosecutors said Narroway’s offences contained a “self-serving and potentially sinister element” and that he “appeared to be weaving together some personal or business interest with repeatedly impersonating an official government SafeWork inspector for some potential financial reward”.
However, there was no allegation he gained any direct financial benefit from the offences.
Narroway acknowledged from the beginning of his submissions to the court that his offences were “stupid, illegal and wrong”.
He said he had been under the influence of some prohibited substances during “some stages” of his offending in 2013 and 2014, and that he had, during the same period, been operating a legitimate occupational health and safety advisory business called Resilient Group.
He said that in the past “there has been some confusion as to whether myself or my salespeople go around being inspectors or consultants”.
Narroway was fined $15,000, plus the Victims of Crime Levy and the prosecutor’s legal costs.
Previous to his 2013 and 2014 offences, Narroway was repeatedly sentenced and convicted for fraud and dishonesty offences between 2008 and 2012.
According to Lieschke’s judgement, he had also used multiple names: Sam Turner, Sam Byers, Sam Smith and Sam Norroway.
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