20 April 2022

Former police officer Scott White avoids 'hell' behind bars for lying in fake rape case

| Albert McKnight

Scott John White (centre) approaches court on Tuesday with his barrister John Purnell SC (right). Photo: Albert McKnight.

A former policeman, once part of a high-risk counter-terrorism unit, avoided the “hell” faced by being a police officer behind bars when he was sentenced for lying during the false rape case against a woman who is now his wife.

At the end of an ACT Supreme Court jury trial in late 2021, Scott John White, who is aged about 40, was found guilty of a charge of making a false statement in a legal proceeding.

This related to comments he made about condom use in the Magistrates Court hearing against his then-girlfriend and now-wife, Sarah-Jane Parkinson, in July 2015.

Parkinson faced the hearing accused of making up fake allegations of rape and assault against her former partner, a prison guard, who had been arrested, refused bail and spent time in jail after she reported the false complaint.

These offences never happened and she went on to plead guilty to making a false accusation.

But White was called as a witness during the 2015 hearing in which he said they didn’t use condoms. However, Justice Michael Elkaim said he previously told a police officer he had used them.

The issue of condoms was raised as a condom formed part of Parkinson’s complaint, which White was aware of.

In Crown prosecutor Anthony Williamson’s sentencing submissions, he said White’s evidence had fortunately been rejected and Parkinson was ultimately sentenced to jail.

“Nonetheless, the offender’s conduct in perjuring himself had the capacity to deflect the court from getting to the truth of the matter and depriving Ms Parkinson’s victim of the justice that he deserved,” he said.

“It was not impulsive offending that occurred in the spur of the moment; the offender was on notice that questions involving his condom usage could be asked and he would invariably have turned his mind to what his response would be.”

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Barrister John Purnell SC accepted the trial’s jury found his client had given an untruthful answer during a hearing, but he said there was “no forensic value to whether he said yes or no” and “it wouldn’t have made any difference”.

“Because you’re in a relationship with someone doesn’t make you complicit in that person’s criminality,” he said.

Mr Purnell tried to talk Justice Elkaim out of a full-time jail sentence, saying “police officers do it harder and tougher than other prisoners” and if an inmate found out another was a police officer, then their lives were made “hell”.

White gave the names of three people, which were legally suppressed, he said he had investigated who were currently housed at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, including a murderer, a violent bikie and a repeat offender he said he caught impersonating a police officer.

But Mr Williamson described this as a “non-issue” as he could be housed in a protective unit segregated from the mainstream prison population.

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Justice Elkaim said White appeared to be a good police officer, a good family man, a contributing member of society and the perjury had been a “one-off”.

Despite the fact White had not expressed remorse and had lodged an appeal, Justice Elkaim said the reasons for leniency took away the need for full-time custody and sentenced him to 18 months’ jail to be suspended immediately for a two-year good behaviour order.

White, who told the court he used to be part of a high-risk counter-terrorism unit, was suspended on full pay in late 2019, but when he was convicted at the end of his trial, he was dismissed from his job.

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