Police funeral for alleged pedophile cop 'a mistake'

Stock image for Tasmania Police signage.
Tasmania Police has conceded there were failings in an investigation into pedophilia claims. -AAP Image

A senior police officer who died by suicide while being investigated over child sexual abuse allegations had a decade earlier been the subject of an "inadequate" internal review relating to similar suspicions.Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds, who served with the force for almost 40 years, died on September 13, 2018.He was being investigated after a colleague alleged the 54-year-old had sent and received child exploitation material and had groomed young men.Snr Sgt Reynolds was provided a full police guard-of-honour funeral, something Tasmania Police has conceded was a mistake based on "what is now known". The final report of an inquiry into state government responses to child sexual abuse allegations examined how Tasmania Police handled complaints relating to Snr Sgt Reynolds.The report said that in 2008 an interstate police officer alleged he overheard a conversation at Tasmania's police academy involving two inspectors, which suggested then-Inspector Reynolds was a "pedophile". "One inspector reportedly said he had visited Inspector Reynolds' home and saw him with a 15-year-old boy between his legs, giving him a massage," says the report, which was released publicly on Tuesday. "Another inspector reportedly said that his wife had been approached by people in the community concerned about Inspector Reynolds' behaviour around young boys." The interstate police officer reported the accusations to a Tasmania Police divisional inspector, who briefed the commander of internal investigations.In correspondence with the then-deputy commissioner, the two inspectors suggested there had been a misinterpretation of comments and it had not been said Insp Reynolds was a pedophile.An assistant commissioner present during the alleged conversation said there had been no mention of pedophilia and he did not believe there was any basis to pursue the matter further. He suggested the interstate officer had "seriously misunderstood" the conversation, adding such an allegation had "potentially very damaging consequences for a person wrongfully accused". The commander of internal investigations decided the weight of evidence suggested the interstate police officer was either mistaken or had misinterpreted the comments. The two inspectors were advised the matter would be closed and filed for future reference, the report says. "We consider that the approach to investigating the alleged conversation overheard by the interstate police officer was inadequate," the report said."The interstate police officer should have been invited to make a formal statement." Tasmania Police has conceded there were failings in the original review.A coroner's report published this month said allegations by a colleague against Snr Sgt Reynolds were made to police professional standards on September 6, 2018.The allegations included the claim that Snr Sgt Reynolds was "widely reputed" in his local area to be a pedophile and that several children and adults had relevant information. Hundreds of officers were present at a full police funeral for Snr Sgt Reynolds on September 19, 2018."At the time of his death, police were in the initial stages of a criminal investigation relating to indecent mobile phone images being sent to minors," Tasmania Police's statement said."However, the full extent of his conduct was not known at that stage."Quite simply, knowing what we do now, clearly the decision to grant a police funeral was a mistake and one we regret."The inquiry urged Tasmania Police to continue its path to improving responses to reports of child sexual abuse.

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