8 June 2001
An article published in Scoop, under the byline “Sludge”, purported to be “the real story behind the shooting of Wellington student Steven Wallace”. Unfortunately the story had little or no basis of fact to provide any further informed debate on what was a tragic event.
Taking into account “Scoop’s” aim of providing a forum for unbridled free expression of opinion, I would like to provide some facts to balance the “hearsay” (your word) comments and give your readers the opportunity to make reasoned judgements.
There is no doubt the whole tragic incident will engender considerable debate as to the reasons why and how Steven Wallace was shot. The investigation report is, at the moment, the only factual record on which to base any form of informed debate. The purpose of the investigation was to establish whether there was any criminality or breach of the law. The report was thoroughly scrutinised by the Office of the Solicitor General.
FACT: The Deputy Solicitor General found that Constable A had acted lawfully.
“Sludge” states; “according to Sludges sources” (which Sludge “cannot be certain of”) that Constable A “had in fact not even gone to bed that night. Rather he had been up all night at a party at the Waitara Volunteer Fire Brigade, during which he had had an altercation with Wallace.” Sludge also suggests that Constable A was “quite possibly intoxicated” at the time of the shooting of Steven Wallace.
FACT: The rumour that Constable A and Steven Wallace attended a Fire Service social function was investigated at the time and found to have no substance whatsoever.
FACT: There is no evidence that Constable A had consumed any alcohol in the evening or the morning prior to the time of the Waitara callout.
FACT: Constable A had been on duty between 3 pm and 11 pm on 29 April 2000 and had been at home and in bed before he was called out shortly after 3 am on 30 April 2000.
Had Constable A attended the function as “Sludge” suggested, people who had attended that function would have come forward by now to substantiate the issue about Constable A and Steven Wallace being seen at the function and having an “altercation”.
FACT: No one, including the media, has provided any evidence to support that story.
“Sludge’s” strong criticism of the media for not publishing this “story” would suggest that perhaps the media had found out for themselves there was no foundation and therefore no reason or basis on which to publish such a story.
As “Sludge” points out, there is a Coroner’s Inquest, a Police Complaints Authority review yet to come and possibly a private prosecution and/or a civil suit. These are the appropriate fora for the issues to be objectively dealt with.
Police will certainly front up to any private prosecution that may be brought. We simply ask that those who might try to institute such proceedings do so now so that due process in the form of the Coroners’ Inquest and the Police Complaints Authority review might also proceed. We are certainly as frustrated as anyone in the lack of progress in bringing matters to a conclusion and are not part of what Sludge referred to as “what appears to be a grand conspiracy of silence”.
The media, in whatever form, should provide factual evidence to support any comment or opinion about what actually happened at Waitara in the early hours of Sunday, 30 April 200. Anything less is a disservice rather than a service to its readers.
In accordance with your stated mission I would ask that you publish this letter on your website to help restore some semblance of balance on the issue.
Anti(c)opyright Sludge 2001