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Australia Tas inquest told of last conversation

10:51  29 november  2022
10:51  29 november  2022 Source:   aap.com.au

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A senior police sergeant in Tasmania has told an inquest of his last conversation with a colleague who took his own life, saying he pleaded with him in an attempt to take him home safely.

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On the day Const Hunt died, he was issued a stand-down notice by Tasmania Police's professional standards unit during their visit to the Hobart station where he worked.

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The visit, and a search, were over allegations he had used his police badge and false driver's licence information to obtain pseudoephedrine and codeine-based medication from pharmacies.

Senior Sergeant Andrew Bennett, secretary of the state's police association, worked at the station and was involved in a briefing prior to professional standards' visit.

Sgt Bennett told the inquest professional standards made no inquiries prior to the briefing to the police association about Const Hunt's mental health.

"It wasn't something that was discussed at that meeting. The meeting was very transactional in relation to what was going to happen," he said.

"I didn't discuss intimate details of Paul's background. I was aware he had a number of matters that had been dealt with.

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"I took a view ... internal investigations had considered all the things they needed to consider."

Sgt Bennett said Const Hunt, 32, told him following the visit and search that he was a "drug addict".

"We almost had a fight at the back door," he said.

"I was pleading with him to get into the police car with me, (so I could) drive him home or take him to a pub and have a chat to get him through the emotion of what had just occurred.

"At the time I said … 'what has just happened to you I know is significant'.

"It's not the end of the world. This is something we've got to deal with but we'll get you through it. What I'd like to do is get you home to your wife."

Sgt Bennett said at the time he didn't believe he had the powers to take Const Hunt into protective custody under the mental health act.

"Had I known he was going to run from me, I probably would have called for some assistance … to get him to his house," he said.

The inquest has previously been told Const Bennett, whose phone was confiscated during the search, took a taxi to Launceston some 200km away.

He then took another taxi to the property of his father, who was away travelling.

Const Hunt was spoken to by police after being identified as being a heavy purchaser from pharmacists in 2014.

He was interviewed by professional standards in late 2015, the inquest has been told.

The inquest is investigating policy and procedures of Tasmania Police in respect to the standing down, suspension and termination of officers, as well as welfare programs.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!