Restitution for the Jones Family - False Rape Claims cost $350K

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Attorney General
Gordon Ramsay MLA
Address: GPO Box 1020,
Canberra, ACT 2601
 
Email: ramsay@act.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6205 2615

 

Subject : Restitution for the Jones Family

I call upon Gordon Ramsay to exercise his powers and grant Act of Grace (ex-Gratia) payments to Mr Daniel Jones and his parents to recoup their legal expenses incurred defending themselves against baseless charges brought by the AFP - ACT Policing and subsequently prosecuted by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.

There has been extensive media coverage of this case, which culminated in Sarah Jane Parkinson being convicted of one count of ‘make false allegation of an offence’, ‘four counts of public mischief’ and one count of ‘ possession of a prohibited item’. The ABC and Canberra times News articles can be found here:

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-17/canberra-woman-jailed-for-false-rape-claim/10723908

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/how-fake-allegations-landed-an-innocent-man-in-jail-20190117-p50s0c.html

Mr Jones and his parents were the subject of 32 separate charges brought by the ACT police, the most serious of which was threat to kill and sexual assault (rape). Their ordeal lasted over 5 years until the last of the charges was dropped in January 2015. To defend themselves, the Jones family spent approximately $350,000 on legal fees before all charges were dropped.

Their accuser, Sarah Jane Parkinson was sentenced to 3 years and 1 month with a minimum period of 2 years non-parole. The relevant cases are Police V Sarah Jane Parkinson – AFP Reference; 5612090 (Case numbers: CC15/05648, CC15/01912, CC15/01911, CC15/01910 & CC14/10865)              

Why is an Act of Grace Payment warranted?

There were systemic failures across the ACT Justice portfolio, in both the ACT Police Service and the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions. These failures are highlighted below:

1.       Sarah Jane Parkinson enjoyed the benefits of being part of the police ‘family’

a.       she worked as an administrative assistant at the NSW Queanbeyan police station

b.      Her boyfriend S White was a Constable working at the NSW Queanbeyan police station

c.       Constable White had worked operationally with members of the ACT Police service and was personally known to some of the Gungahlin police investigators.

 

2.       Because Sarah Jane Parkinson was part of the wider police family, her story was believed and was not subjected to the challenge any other member of the public would face, despite changing her accounts several times and there being no physical, medical or forensic evidence to support her claims.

3.       The support she received from the lead investigator went well beyond the normal support provided to other alleged victims, including items purchased for her on an official police credit card and ongoing support via text.

4.       The support provided by members of the ACT Police service enabled her to grow bolder with her allegations and expand her reach. Had her initial claims been properly investigated and rejected, she would not have gone on to make further allegations against members of Mr Jones’ family and friends. The family would not have incurred the expense of defending themselves against the snowballing accretion of charges.

5.       The ACT Police officers involved in the initial cases used their power and police resources to harass and intimidate the family and witnesses. This placed significant pressure on the family and meant that they incurred significant expenses defending these baseless and unfounded allegations. The DPP should not have proceeded with the charges against any of the Jones family. They failed to exercise due diligence, which was a significant failure of the key checks and balances in the process.

6.       The DPP continued to prosecute the flawed case even after being told by Justice Refshauge that the DPP’s case was in serious jeopardy. The DPP was prosecuting charges against Mr Jones and his parents, even after Ms Parkinson’s allegations of rape were proven false and after a case for prosecution was being made against her. The charges were finally dropped in December 2014 and January 2015. Had the DPP acted swiftly to drop the charges, the family would not have incurred additional significant expenses.

7.       A forensic review of the case undertaken by the new Director of the ACT DPP has confirmed that there was no evidence to support the 32 charges and subsequent prosecution.

8.       Due to the nature of this case, there is unwillingness from ACT Government officials to accept legal responsibility and as a consequence, parties to the process point the finger of blame elsewhere. An Act of Grace payment requires no formal admission of liability, but will still provide restitution and therefore some natural justice for the Jones family.

As a concerned citizen and resident of the ACT, I am concerned that this could happen to any of us. I call upon you to provide financial remedy to the Jones family.

Mark Hilton

Canberra