The police officer son of former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally has avoided full-time imprisonment after being convicted of fabricating a statement that landed a man behind bars.

Daniel John Keneally, now 25-years-old, was sentenced to a 15-month intensive correction order (a sentence of imprisonment served in the community) at Downing Centre Local Court on 1 February 2024. He is to complete 200 hours of community service and pay a $2,000 fine.

This was despite the prosecutor from the Director of Public Prosecutions urging Magistrate Rodney Brender to instead order full-time imprisonment.

Keneally was found guilty in November 2023 with the charge, relating to an incident in which he wrote a statement containing numerous falsehoods about a phone call from 34-year-old Luke Brett Moore to Newtown Police Station in February 2021.

He falsely accused Moore of stating that he wanted certain police officers ‘gone’ and ‘off this planet’, even adding that when he questioned Moore what this meant, he replied: “Good as gone. Dead.”

Moore was charged with one count of using a carriage service to threaten to kill and two counts of using a carriage service to menace, harass, or offend, after Constable Keneally provided details of the complaint to the Fixated Persons Unit. He was subsequently refused bail and held in a maximum-security correctional centre for weeks.

However, Moore secretly taped the conversation, and was able to provide this to the prosecution who withdrew the charges after confirming that the call contained no death threats.

Whilst he had called the station to discuss the use of strip search powers, it was found that he did not threaten the lives of then New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Goulburn police officer Ed Taylor, as alleged.

Moore revealed that officers would have had access to the actual recording of the call within days of him being charged, however, the charges were only dropped when the matter was taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He was awarded costs of $10,000 by the Local Court Magistrate, upon the withdrawal of the charges.

Moore complained to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission about Keneally’s conduct, who recommended that consideration be given to obtaining advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the Keneally’s prosecution.

During the sentence, Magistrate Brender commented how Keneally ‘had no apparent personal or financial motive’ and was a ‘young and inexperienced’ police officer at the time of the offending.

Despite being found guilty, Keneally continues to maintain his innocence and has lodged an appeal with respect to the matter, which is first listed on 6 February 2024 at the District Court.

Whilst he accepts the differences between his statement and the recording of the call made by Moore, Keneally argues that he did not intend to mislead, instead arguing that it was merely a ‘mistake’.

During the hearing after which he was convicted, Keneally argued that he had unintentionally confused the phone call with material from Mr Moore’s website named ‘isuepolice.com’. He also argued that he was distracted by other duties and was overtired from the previous night’s shift.

Magistrate Brender ruled that he could not accept this evidence, or that the mistake could have been made “inadvertently,”.

“The material he wrote had no other possible source and was relevantly a fabrication. It was deliberate. He must have known he couldn’t recall it having been said and it was false to say he did recall it,

“The evidence of a threat to kill a policeman, he knew, would inevitably very likely lead to charges and a court process … it (his statement) is a fabrication and would mislead the relevant tribunal.” he said.

Keneally’s lawyer applied for the intensive correction order to be stayed, noting the appeal is now pending. This was granted by the Magistrate, meaning that Keneally will not have to serve the sentence until the appeal’s outcome.

Fabricating Evidence Offences and Penalty in New South Wales

In New South Wales, it is an offence to fabricate evidence as outlined in section 317 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The prosecution will be required to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you intended to mislead any judicial tribunal in any judicial proceeding by:

  • suppressing, concealing, destroying, altering, or falsifying anything knowing that it is or may be required as evidence in any judicial proceeding,
  • fabricating false evidence (other than by perjury), or
  • knowingly making use of fabricated false evidence.

Evidence is construed broadly and will include physical items, images, and statements provided to the police or made by officers themselves.

A judicial proceeding is defined as a proceeding in or before a judicial tribunal (i.e., court or other body authorised by law) in which evidence may be taken on oath.

A maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment is applicable, where the matter is dealt with in the District Court. However, the offence will only be dealt with in the District Court where the prosecutor or accused person elects to do so.

This means that it will ordinarily be dealt with in the Local Court, which is jurisdictionally limited to apply a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine, for a single offence.

AUTHOR Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

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