Tele: Former Griffith police boss Michael Rowan charged over misleading evidence

Veteran police officer Michael Rowan, who was suspended two years ago, has been charged with misleading a misconduct inquiry about his relationship with a female officer.

A former police boss who was found to have engaged in serious misconduct during his reign at a country station has now been charged with lying to an inquiry.

Retired Detective Superintendent Michael Rowan’s acrimonious split from the NSW Police Force came after he was suspended over a series of relationships with female staff.

As revealed in The Sunday Telegraph in May 2018 [BELOW], Mr Rowan, who was the longstanding boss at the Murrumbidgee Police Area Command in Griffith, allegedly omitted crucial information about a domestic violence incident to favour a friend and did not declare relationships with female staff.

One woman ended up living in a police housing property with heavily subsidised rent.

The allegations prompted a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission inquiry and closed door hearings involving several police officers in December 2018.

The LECC eventually found the veteran officer engaged in serious misconduct.

Mr Rowan has not appealed or challenged the findings against him and has declined to comment to The Sunday Telegraph.

The latest development in the ongoing saga has seen Mr Rowan charged with providing false or misleading evidence to the LECC and failing to produce evidence.

He is due to appear in the Downing Centre Local Court on January 21.

Mr Rowan, who had recently been working for Leeton Council and — according to locals — had considered running for local government, was medically discharged from the force.

The 57-year-old had led some of NSW’s most high profile investigations, including recent investigations into the unsolved 1977 murder of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay and the killing of schoolteacher Stephanie Scott in Leeton.

According to a report from LECC, Mr Rowan allegedly intervened in a domestic violence incident involving a female senior constable he was close with in February, 2017.

Mr Rowan denied having an affair with the woman.

The woman, who allegedly assaulted her partner, had said: “I might as well get a gun and shoot myself”, according to notes made by a police officer who responded to the incident.

A risk or threat of self-harm is grounds to have an officer’s gun taken off them.

An acting inspector later claimed Rowan stood behind her when it came time to officially record the DV incident and told her to leave out the “shoot myself” reference.

Rowan was also close friends with this acting inspector.

When a concerned officer raised a red flag about the inaccurate record, he was slapped with a formal warning — from Rowan — for unlawfully accessing the database.

Rowan was suspended in September 2018 and banned from communicating with the female officer he sought to protect.

A few months later, when they were both summoned to give evidence at LECC hearings in Sydney, it is alleged the pair ended up staying in the same CBD hotel.

The LECC report alleges they ignored the order not to speak to one another and drank beers in the senior constable’s hotel room.

Asked about the encounter later, the woman admitted she had seen her former boss but Mr Rowan denied ever going to her hotel room.

According to its report, the LECC watched the hotel CCTV that allegedly showed the pair getting in and out of the elevator and going into the woman’s hotel room.

In one of the charges, the LECC alleges Mr Rowan gave misleading evidence when he denied ever going to her room.

By that point in the inquiry, the woman had given evidence but Mr Rowan had not.

Two other charges concern Mr Rowan’s mobile phone. When LECC asked Mr Rowan to turn his mobile phone over, it is alleged Mr Rowan claimed he had lost it while walking through the CBD at 4am. The woman’s phone had been turned over when she gave evidence a day prior.

But LECC allegedly traced the phone later that day to the same area in Sydney where Rowan’s parents lived.

Cover-up claims, affairs and misconduct probe shadow NSW Police command

(27 MAY 2018) A MISCONDUCT probe targeting the upper echelons of a regional police command is looking at allegations a domestic violence incident was covered up to protect a secret affair.

ALLEGATIONS that police changed a report on claims of domestic violence to protect a senior officer are being investigated by the Professional Standards Command.

Dozens of police officers stationed at the Murrumbidgee Police District in southwest NSW have been interviewed over the past few months amid allegations of favouritism, bullying and inappropriate relationships.

At the heart of the investigation is a complaint that undue influence was placed on junior officers sent to a domestic incident involving a ­female police officer and her de facto partner last year.

The female officer was a friend of the district’s boss, Superintendent Michael Rowan, the PSC has been told.

The inquiry is also looking into allegations of the female officer’s relationship with Rowan.

In line with normal practice, a report about the incident was logged in the internal police system — known as COPS.

The PSC has been told an officer at Griffith Police Station allegedly pressured colleagues to amend or delete the COPS entry detailing what happened at the female officer’s house that day.

Notebooks, in which the two junior officers made handwritten records of what ­occurred, have since been handed over to the PSC.

The scandal has rocked the tight-knit policing community.

Supt Rowan, a veteran officer who has been the face of several high-profile murder ­investigations, has largely been absent from Griffith in recent weeks after transferring to the Hume Police District to fill in for another commander.

The investigation is also looking into the relationship between another officer, area manager Brenda Steadman and Supt Rowan. 

A NSW Police spokesman would not expand on the ­investigation, only to confirm a “process remains under way”.

“The NSW Police Force has a rigorous framework in place to ensure all complaint matters are thoroughly investigated,” he said.

Categories: ALL POSTS