Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2014
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2014 New Zealand Herald
Author: Jared Savage
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


Police top brass have admitted mistakes were made when the detective 
who blew the whistle on his drug-dealing boss was investigated 
himself after he raised concerns with management.

Michael David Blowers was today jailed for four years and nine months 
after pleading guilty to methamphetamine offences while in charge of 
the organised crime unit in Northland.

The 51-year-old took 34 grams of the Class-A drug from the exhibit 
locker at the Whangarei police station and replaced it with salt to 
disguise the theft.

Justice Geoffrey Venning highlighted the "high level of hypocrisy" of 
the crimes and said Blowers' actions endangered "the trust that 
members of the community properly have in our police force".

He said Blowers had suffered the "public humiliation of a significant 
personal fall from grace" but his late admission of guilt stopped 
some details embarrassing to police being aired in open court.

A Herald inquiry revealed in September last year that the detective 
who blew the whistle on Blowers, who was his supervisor, was himself 
investigated before his concerns were taken seriously.

Andrew Glendinning became suspicious of Blowers' behaviour and tailed 
him on visits to the home of a woman before handing a dossier - which 
included covert photographs - to senior management in Northland.

But the actions of Mr Glendinning, not Blowers, were investigated first.

He was removed from the organised crime squad and placed under strict 
supervision while being subjected to an internal code-of-conduct inquiry.

This centred on his use of the National Intelligence Application 
computer system, which is meant to be used only on official police business.

After several weeks, he was cleared of any breaches and attention 
switched to Blowers, who became the subject of an internal inquiry 
which was later escalated to a criminal investigation.

Mr Glendinning was listed as a trial witness and did not return phone calls.

Yesterday, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, the Northland district 
commander, said he was unable to discuss details of employment 
matters involving staff but acknowledged mistakes were made.

"Yes, there were some errors ... We could have done things better at 
the outset. We've learned some lessons along the way. At the end of 
the day, we got the right result. We've got rid of a bad apple."

Police lawyers are considering whether an internal report on what 
happened can be released to the Herald under the Official Information Act.

"We genuinely want to work out the balance between the public 
interest with our obligations in regards to employment matters and 
privacy and release what we can."

Mr Le Prou also offered reassurance to any Northland police officer 
with concerns about a colleague.

"If there is a matter like this which gets reported to me, or my 
leadership team, we will investigate it appropriately."

The downfall of Blowers, a 21-year police veteran, started because of 
his affair with an informant, according to Justice Venning.

Blowers had legitimately cultivated her as a source but Justice 
Venning said the relationship became "inappropriate and intimate".

As far back as 2002, police bosses had told him to cease all contact 
with the woman, whose identity is suppressed.

"You have lost the home you had built up with your wife and you have 
suffered the very public humiliation of a significant ... fall from grace."

Blowers had maintained his innocence since his arrest in 2013 but 
made a shock admission during his High Court trial in October when he 
pleaded guilty to supplying methamphetamine over a period of 12 
months and a charge of stealing the drugs.

The drugs were taken from a seizure of 58g at a motel in October 2011 
and testing by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research 
showed 81 per cent purity. But a second test showed 29 per cent 
purity, and table salt was present.

"It looked the same, it weighed the same, but it was not the same," 
prosecutor Phil Hamlin told the court. "Someone had carefully made up 
the 58g to make it look like the original, but it was not."

Blowers' guilty plea came only after evidence showed he was the only 
person to have access to the drugs.

He was regularly supplying methamphetamine to his informant for her 
to sell, normally in 1g amounts, and tipped her off about police inquiries.

Justice Venning said he "constantly pressured her for cash". The 
largest single sum she paid him was $7000.

Blowers told her who not to associate with in the criminal community 
so she could avoid being caught up in inquiries.

He claimed he stole the drugs to protect his family from perceived 
threats and out of fear of the criminal underworld, but Justice 
Venning dismissed that.

"If you and your family had been genuinely threatened by gangs there 
were steps the police could, and would, have taken to protect you."
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