A NSW Police officer has been found guilty of lying about condoms during the legal proceedings against a fake rape claim made by a woman who is now his wife.
After more than a day of deliberations, on Thursday (2 December), the jury in Scott John White’s trial returned a guilty verdict to a charge of making a false statement in a legal proceeding.
White was seen shaking his head at the announcement, which was also met with a loud sigh from someone within the ACT Supreme Court’s gallery.
However, the court also heard the jury had trouble reaching a verdict on a second perjury charge.
Justice Michael Elkaim discharged them from deliberating on that charge and the court heard the prosecution would not take it any further.
At the start of the trial on Monday (29 November), the jury heard White met Sarah-Jane Parkinson at Queanbeyan Police Station, where he had worked since 2010 after she started an administration role there in 2012. They eventually began dating and were ultimately married.
But Parkinson faced a hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court in July 2015 accused of making fake allegations of rape and assault against her former partner, a prison guard.
After she made the fake rape complaint to police, her former partner was arrested, refused bail and spent time locked up in Goulburn’s jail.
She had pleaded guilty to making a false accusation, was sentenced and served time behind bars in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
During closing submissions on Wednesday (1 December), Crown prosecutor Anthony Williamson told jurors not to get distracted by her case, saying it was “largely a sideshow”.
For White’s trial, Mr Williamson said jurors had to decide on two issues: whether he gave evidence under oath that was untrue during the July 2015 hearing; and if he did, did he know that there was a substantial risk that the evidence was untrue?
“Central to the criminal justice system is the evidence that witnesses in criminal proceedings give,” he told jurors, saying if the community could not trust the integrity of evidence, “then our justice system will falter”.
The charge that jurors were discharged from considering any further related to how during the 2015 hearing White had been asked if he spoke to Parkinson about the content of statements both he and she made to police, as well as if they discussed the case. The Crown had alleged he lied when he said no.
During the 2015 hearing, White had also been asked whether he and Parkinson used condoms in their relationship, which arose as she had claimed her alleged rapist used one.
“I had a vasectomy in 2007 and we’ve never used condoms at all,” White had replied.
Mr Williamson said when White gave evidence in this trial he conceded they had used condoms on “an occasion”, and that when he gave the response in the 2015 hearing, he thought the question only related to vaginal sex. He didn’t think using condoms during anal sex was relevant.
But Mr Williamson said the question had been asked about condom use in general, not only about vaginal sex.
However, barrister John Purnell SC said White now believed he had made a mistake and accepted the question covered both types of sex.
“We all make mistakes,” he said.
Mr Williamson accepted that White was otherwise “a good police officer” and “a good bloke”, but said “that does not mean he did not commit” this offence.
Mr Purnell said the Crown had not shown what was in White’s mind while he was giving his evidence in July 2015, which was something the jury had to decide, and that the Crown had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“We know that he’s an honest man,” he said.
After the verdict had been delivered, Justice Elkaim continued White’s bail and adjourned the case to 17 February 2022. He will be sentenced at a later date.