Video that sparked cop’s six years of hell

A still from the CCTV footage shows a blow being delivered to Noa Begic in the back of a police wagon in the basement of the Surfers Paradise station.
A still from the CCTV footage shows a blow being delivered to Noa Begic in the back of a police wagon in the basement of the Surfers Paradise station.

IT STARTED with a USB drive stuck to the back of a sign in the boondocks of a Gold Coast industrial estate.

It finished yesterday when former Glitter Strip cop Rick Flori walked free from court after a six-year crusade by the Queensland Police Service to nail him for leaking video footage of a shocking police bashing in the basement of Surfers Paradise police station.

In early 2012, I received a tip-off that four uniformed officers from one of Queensland's busiest police stations had been involved in the bashing of a handcuffed prisoner.

The proof was video footage left on the flash drive, which I was to collect from a deserted industrial estate in the dead of night.

Days later - six years ago to the day - we splashed the exclusive story across the front page of The Courier-Mail.

The reaction was swift.

Then Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson held an extraordinary media conference the following day vowing to find the source of the leak, immediately arguing that the person responsible was not a whistleblower because the incident was already under investigation by the Ethical Standards Command and the Crime and Corruption's predecessor, the CMC.

It effectively meant the source of the video would not receive the legal protection usually afforded to whistleblowers.

While none of the officers caught on camera in the bashing of young chef Noa Begic ever faced prosecution, Flori was immediately under fire.

A jubilant Rick Flori after his court win yesterday. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
A jubilant Rick Flori after his court win yesterday. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Within weeks he had been accused of leaking the video.

Ricky Leaks, they called him.

His home was raided by internal affairs investigators and he was slapped with disciplinary action.

Some officers involved in the bashing were stood down (and later reinstated), others retired.

Flori faced court.

Even after Flori successfully fought against disciplinary sanctions in the Supreme Court in 2014, the QPS would not be denied, and slapped Flori with criminal misconduct charges.

The Courier-Mail again splashed the story across the front page.

In editorials we called for the charges to be dropped.

Investigation by the paper revealed only two of the four officers involved ever faced disciplinary action and none were ever sacked or prosecuted.

Civil liberties crusader Terry O'Gorman demanded the CCC take over the investigation.

But still the case continued.

Until yesterday, when 11 jurors decided Flori was not guilty of misconduct.

Not guilty, but punished plenty.


Six years of hell



January 29, 2012: Noa Begic arrested in Surfers Paradise. Senior Constable Benjamin Lamb knees Begic twice and punches him six times. District Duty Officer David Joachim washes Begic's blood off the cement with a bucket of water. Joachim speaks with Begic in cells. No complaint is made.

February 6, 2012: Begic makes official complaint.

February 8, 2012: Queensland Police Ethical Standards Command investigates complaint. Sergeant Rick Flori hears of the incident and downloads footage to view.

February 9, 2012: ESC interviews Lamb.

February 10, 2012: Flori contacts journalist and arranges for USB containing footage to be taped to sign in Southport.

February 16, 2012: Footage is published.

March 6, 2012: Lamb admits to ESC investigators he used too much force during Begic arrest.

April 2012: Police raid Flori's home for footage and confiscate computers in house.

June 7, 2012: Joachim and Lamb stood down with full pay pending ESC investigation. Lamb later placed on "suspended dismissal".

June 8, 2012: Begic cleared of criminal charges.

December, 2013: Joachim retires. Disciplinary action dropped.

June 2015: Flori charged with misconduct for leaking the tape.

November 4, 2017: Flori quits Queensland Police Service.

February 5, 2018: Trial into Flori starts. He faces two counts of misconduct.

February 12, 2018: One misconduct charge struck out mid-trial.

February 14, 2018 : Flori acquitted by majority verdict.

Topics:  bashing editors picks gld coast leak misconduct police ricky flori

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