The officer running the investigation into Mosman swim coach Kyle Daniels has denied in court covering up changes that strengthened the case against the coach.
The officer leading the investigation into Kyle Daniels has denied omitting and changing evidence to further incriminate the swim coach and said she’s surprised one mother told the court she’d “do whatever she could” to get the young man locked away.
Detective Senior Constable Emma Stewart is giving evidence in the NSW District Court after the 22-year-old Daniels pleaded not guilty to 26 counts of child indecent and sexual abuse.
The majority of his five week trial has been consumed, so far, by recorded interviews between Detective Stewart and the nine alleged victims as well as statements made by their parents.
Detective Stewart has spearheaded the investigation since before Daniels was arrested in March 2019.
That high profile arrest came after two sisters made allegations they’d been touched in the pool and a complaint from a third child was found in the swim centre’s records.
Daniels’ defence barrister, Leslie Nicholls, pressed Detective Stewart about why the word “bottom” was changed to the word “vagina” in the sworn statement given by the mother of the sisters.
Detective Stewart said she spoke with the mother, over the phone, about the draft statement the woman had written. The officer changed the word “bum” based on the woman’s suggestion for the final copy.
“Did you confirm the change in writing, saying ‘as per our conversation on the phone I have changed bum to vagina’?” Mr Nicholls asked the detective on Wednesday.
“No,” Detective Stewart said before agreeing the change supported the police case against Daniels.
The mother’s final statement was ultimately handed over to the Crown Prosecutor’s office and Daniels’ legal team for the trial.
Mr Daniels’ legal team suggested the officer had made the change, concealed it and it had ultimately made the case stronger against the swim coach.
“I suggest you attempted to hide the fact the mother’s statement… had been changed by you,” Mr Nicholls said to the detective.
“Absolutely not,” she responded.
“You further misled the Crown solicitor’s office on that very same issue,” Mr Nicholls pressed her.
“Disagree,” Detective Stewart said.
The officer in charge maintained the change made between the draft and the final version of the mother’s statement was above board but agreed the alteration was “significant”.
She denied making the change to support her case against Daniels.
Detective Stewart was also asked about a statement from swim centre manager, Crystal Doyle, who took a complaint from the mother of one alleged victim.
The court heard parts of Ms Doyle’s comments were omitted from her final statement.
Mr Nicholls said one omission was about Daniels’ “good character” – he suggested the officer took it out because it didn’t help her case.
Detective Stewart denied that saying she’d only omitted “commentary”.
The coach’s lawyer said another missing detail was that Ms Doyle was originally told it was Daniels’ forearm, not his hand, that was between the girl’s legs.
The girl’s mother, in her evidence at the start of the trial, told the jury her daughter had always said “hand” and she had passed that on to Ms Doyle in her complaint.
The woman also said she wanted Daniels punished.
“Did the mother of the girl indicate to you she was prepared to do whatever she could to have the accused convicted?” Mr Nicholls asked on Wednesday.
“No, absolutely not,” the detective said.
“Did you, in any way, facilitate, encourage, coerce that attitude in the mother?” Mr Nicholls asked.
“No,” the officer said.
The court heard Ms Doyle at one stage sought to involve a solicitor in making her statement. Mr Nicholls asked if it was because the manager felt pressured by Detective Stewart.
The detective said she didn’t believe that was the case.
Mr Nicholls had, earlier, quizzed the detective about an email she’d sent to another mother in which the officer said she felt “privileged” to be running the investigation.
Detective Stewart agreed it was important detectives didn’t take investigations personally but she couldn’t remember the email to the woman.
The detective told the court she had been reading media reports of the long-running trial after being given legal advice from police that it was fine to do so.As a result, Detective Stewart said, she is aware her conduct in dealing with the statements and child witnesses is an important issue in the trial.
The trial continues.
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