ELEVEN rural-crime investigators have received a NSW Police award in recognition of their role in an operation to locate one the state’s most wanted men.
Detectives from State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad and Orana Local Area Command formed Strike Force Durkin in June 2005 to investigate the murder of Dubbo woman Kristy Scholes, 24; the disappearance and presumed murder of another Dubbo woman, 24-year-old Lateesha Nolan; and the indecent assault of a 15-year-old Dubbo girl.
In August that year, police issued a warrant for the arrest of then-31-year-old Dubbo man Malcolm Naden, who they believed to be the main suspect in the incidents.
By late 2011, investigators were focusing their search on bushland in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, after a person fitting the description of Naden fired shots at a police officer in the area.
Just after midnight on March 22 this year, police arrested the 38-year-old man on a private property near Gloucester.
Naden has since been charged with the murder of Kristy Scholes and Lateesha Nolan, two counts of aggravated indecent assault of a person under 16, and shoot with intent to murder.
Hundreds of police, particularly from the northern and western regions, were involved in Strike Force Durkin.
Among them were 11 rural-crime investigators (RCIs), who were this week presented with the inaugural NSW Police Rural Crime Investigation Award.
“These investigators were instrumental in gaining the support and confidence of local property owners – maintaining contact with them and personally addressing any concerns they had regarding their involvement,” NSW Police western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff Mckechnie said.
“Due to their skills and community relationships, they were also able to obtain critical information and intelligence, which had a direct impact on the successful outcome of Strike Force Durkin.”
The recipients were presented with their awards at the annual NSW Police Rural Crime Investigation Conference at Tocal, near Maitland.
The 11 award-winning RCIs are Detective Senior constables Paul Kelly from Manning Great Lakes, Les Wallace and Scott Kellahan from Oxley, Gavin Berry and James Miller from New England, Clinton Oxenbridge and Aaron Burgess from Barwon, Robert Newman from Chifley, Andrew McGrath from Lachlan, Sean Beckett from Canobolas and Plain Clothes Senior Constable Matthew Martin of Orana LAC.
Senior Constable John Broadley of Gloucester police, who was seconded to perform RCI duties with Strike Force Durkin, also received the award.