A former Victoria Police officer who was involved in the investigation of Melbourne's gangland war, admitted that "1 in every 4 to 5 police briefs" could be improperly sworn.
Gavin Ryan who's currently the Commanding Officer of the Australian Federal Police contigent in Afghanistan, was giving evidence this morning during former drug lord's Tony Mokbell's application to reverse his guilty plea on trafficking charges.
Mokbel's application rests entirely on evidence that some Victoria Police officers have been simply signing affidavits, instead of formally swearing them on oath. The affidavits are then used to gain search warrants, surveillance approval and other investigative tools.
Mr Ryan who was a Detective Inspector of Victoria Police's Purana taskforce from 2005-2007, conceded that when officers were absent due to "operational reasons", he would sign affidavits himself and believed it was "correct procedure at the time, although it's clear now it isn't". He emphasized "no deception was intended" and "it was just getting the job done".
While a rather overweight and balding Tony Mobkbel whispered conspiratorially to his barrister, Mark Gumbleton during a break, Acting Superintendent Andrew Gustke from Warnambool took the stand.
The senior officer agreed that due to the "dynamic nature" of the Crime Department detectives job and the "volume of the search warrants" they deal with that their affidavits weren't always sworn properly. He described it as a "cultural organisational failure" and conceded "maybe it was laziness, but sometimes we just didn't do it right".
Acting Superintendent Gustke said about the correct swearing in procedures of affidavits "wasn't enforced by my superiors and I didn't enforce it with people under me". " He claimed "it wasn't sinister" and had become "second or third place as part of the process." He believed these "bad habits" were due to the change of process from verbal swearing in front of Justices of the Peace to the current practise of signing affidavits on paper that's still in use.
Mokbel pleaded guilty in April 2011 to trafficking a large amount of methyalamphetamine. He was sentenced in absentia on other drug charges in 2006 after skipping bail and fleeing to Greece.
The hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court will continue on Thursday.