A Sydney highway patrol officer has faced a court after anonymously reporting an off-duty colleague was at a primary school with a gun.
But Ricky Wayne Colbron’s lawyer is “at a loss” as to why her client is being prosecuted for public mischief when “everything seems to be true”.
Colbron’s Downing Centre Local Court hearing on Thursday was told he received advice from two police sources that dialling anonymous tips to the NSW Police Assistance Line was a way to report possible misconduct.
He did so from his personal phone while on duty on July 1, 2020, saying a person with a gun who “may or may not be a police officer” had exited a particular car and entered the premises of a Malabar primary school.
“I’ll send an urgent job in case it’s not a police officer,” the operator said, according to a tape of the phone call.
“Ah OK,” Colbron replied.
When the job was broadcast, several local officers identified the man as likely one of their own and set about downgrading the incident.
Then Colbron’s voice came over the radio.
“Can I get those cars to stand by for a sec? I’m making inquiries,” he said.
The off-duty officer carrying the gun, Leading Senior Constable Michael Ide, said he was sitting in his car near the school gate when a sergeant called him about the radio broadcast.
Minutes later, a plains clothes officer arrived on the scene.
L/Sen Const Ide put his hands up, thinking “this could go either way”.
“There was a lot of families waiting around for their kids so it was pretty embarrassing,” he told the court.
Prosecutor Shaun Croner said the tip-off was “plainly a false representation” because Colbron knew the man was a police officer.
But Colbron’s lawyer Leah Rowan said it was difficult to understand what was false.
“I’m at loss but that’s at the heart of the case,” she said.
The court heard a friend and colleague of Colbron saw L/Sen Const Ide walking from the school with children on June 29 while in partial uniform and carrying his pistol.
Colbron and the friend went to a Maroubra police station to report the matter, concerned they would be bullied if going to their superiors at Mascot.
The pair’s direct supervisor was L/Sen Const Ide’s brother-in-law, Sergeant Alex Paul.
“We didn’t want to make a complaint where our names were brought into it,” Sen Const Mitchell Heydon said.
However, one of the station’s then-sergeants said his opinion was the conduct was appropriate.
“He was on his way home from work. He had permission to take his firearm home to lawfully store at his address,” Acting Inspector Michael McKechnie said under cross-examination.
That officer said he was friendly but not friends with officers Ide or Paul and didn’t know of a “drinking circle” between the pair and another superior.
The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.