Top cop fined after he puts career on the line for victims
SOMETIMES, even good people make "bad mistakes".
And nobody is immune to the uncompromising eye of the law, even a police officer who was trying to help those in need.
For Agnes Water officer-in-charge Sergeant Jonathan David Edwards a matter of "misguided community-mindedness" resulted in a fine, and could potentially end his career.
Yesterday, Edwards, 51, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to false assumption of authority to administer oath or take solemn declaration or affirmation or affidavit or any other act of a public nature.
The court heard that in December 2016, Edwards had been "purporting to be a Justice of the Peace", and signing documents.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Grant Klassen said Edwards had signed "documentation to this affect", despite not being an authorised Justice of the Peace in Queensland or any other state.
He said a 2017 search of the Agnes Water Police Station uncovered a JP stand bearing the number "87390" on the wooden mounting block, in Edwards's office.
There were also signed and stamped "oaths of service for domestic violence orders", which had the same number printed on them.
The number was found to have been assigned to another senior constable, who was a registered Justice of the Peace, and had worked at Agnes Water police station between 2007 and 2009.
Sen Const Klassen said Edwards had not "secured personal benefit" from his actions, and was considering resigning from his position and would likely face reprimand.
Defence lawyer Troy Schmidt told of his client's strong ties within the Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy community, saying Edwards had felt there had been a "certain amount of urgency" in getting those documents through the legal system.
Mr Schmidt said Edwards had been the recipient of many awards, set up a 24-hour safe house for children with his wife and in 2016 was a nominee for Gladstone citizen of the year.
Magistrate Terry Duroux said it was "abundantly clear" Edwards was a "particularly strong-minded community person and basically involved in everything good in the community".
"I accept you had some misguided community-mindedness ... what you were trying to do was assist the administration of justice ...," Mr Duroux said.
"It is of some significant value since the incident has occurred, the law has actually changed which now allows police to do the usual swearing and affirmations of documents and signing off ..."
Mr Duroux accepted Edwards made "three stupid decisions" but "sometimes sir, good people make bad mistakes and you fit that category".
Edwards was fined $500.
A conviction was not recorded.