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Cop makes inappropriate visit to woman’s home

A SENIOR police officer who was demoted for taking home a mobile phone from a rape investigation and visiting women pictured naked on the device has partially won an appeal.

A tribunal member has found Senior Sergeant David Tolsher was authorised to keep the mobile phone in his personal possession during the investigation and it was not misconduct.

However Sen-Sgt Tolsher, then officer-in-charge of Ipswich Criminal Investigation Branch, went too far in interviewing one of the women, on his own at her home, for 90 minutes in 2012.

It made the woman - who was a possible victim or witness - feel uncomfortable and intimidated, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Richard Oliver found.

The woman, who quickly told Sen-Sgt Tolsher that photos of her on the phone were taken with her consent, was then shown sexually explicit phone images of other women, he said.

Sen-Sgt Tolsher also spoke to the woman about his own marriage problems and discussed the photo of the wife of another police officer, the tribunal heard.

The woman, who was trying to organise the evening meal for her children, later said it felt like Sen-Sgt Tolsher was prying into her private life and was going to ask her out on a date.

His interviews with two other women, who also said their images were taken with their consent, had been brief.

Sen-Sgt Tolsher said he went alone and did not take notes or record the interviews with the three women because he did not want to embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable.

The mobile phone belonged to an emergency services worker who was charged with rape after another woman complained that he had also used the phone to take indecent photos of her.

A police forensic examination uncovered sexually explicit images of other women.

Mr Oliver found because a senior officer gave permission for Sen-Sgt Tolsher to keep the phone, to prevent others seeing the images, it was not misconduct.

The tribunal heard the phone automatically connected to a fast food restaurant wi-fi while he had it and the man accused of rape was able to externally track it to the officer's home.

Mr Oliver found it was misconduct for Sen Sgt Tolsher to inappropriately conduct official inquiries with a woman who was a possible victim or witness to a sexual or privacy matter.

But he set aside the deputy commissioner's decision last year to demote him to sergeant for two years, instead ordering he be reprimanded.



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