On 27 February 2020, New South Wales Police Force detectives attached to the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad met with the woman at Kings Cross Police Station. Also present was a friend of the woman in support.
The woman disclosed to investigators during this meeting that she had a number of health issues. She also advised investigators that she dissociates and wanted to ensure when supplying her statement that she was ‘coherent and as grounded as possible’.
At the woman’s instigation extensive discussion was had in relation to also having a support person with her during the making of her complaint statement.
At this time the primary concern of investigators was victim care and welfare. The woman indicated she had support from a number of sources, including both professional assistance and family support, including her partner.
Investigators had ongoing contact on at least five occasions with the woman over the next 3 months.
During the contact had with her, her ongoing welfare was discussed along with a plan for how and when her statement would be taken.
On 23 June 2020 the woman sent detectives an email indicating she no longer felt able to proceed with reporting the matter, citing medical and personal reasons.
The woman very clearly articulated in that email that she did not want to proceed with the complaint.
She also thanked investigators in this email. She was very grateful for the time and support the Investigators provided to her.
On 24 June 2020 a strike force detective replied to that email.
On 25 June 2020 South Australia Police advised Strike Force WYNDARRA investigators that the woman had passed away.
As previously indicated, it was only following the woman’s death that NSW Police came into possession of a personal document purportedly made by the woman sometime prior.
Putting an allegation to the person of interest:
From a legal and investigative standpoint, due diligence is required, particularly in historical sexual assault allegations, to ensure that the matter is comprehensively investigated and all available evidence is obtained, reviewed, and corroborated where possible.
Investigative strategies need to be considered as part of this best practice model.
Providing a version to a suspect prior to obtaining a formal statement would have an impact on any future investigative strategies.
It is current standard practice in sexual assault investigative training that upon all of the available information being obtained (in statement form) that the formal allegation can and should be provided to the person of interest as per the procedural fairness principles for investigators, to be able to determine prima facie and whether charging of the person is appropriate.