By ERWIN CHLANDA
Last updated 6 June 2019, 2.20pm.
The surveillance bracelet worn by the alleged shooter, Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann, who killed four people in Darwin on Tuesday, provides real-time monitoring of the wearer’s location, but no use was made of that capability during his hour-long rampage.
This was revealed by the Commissioner for Corrections, Scott McNairn, at a media conference in Darwin this morning.
And Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw disclosed that earlier on Tuesday Hoffman was caught speeding – twice by fixed police cameras, but once by police officers, who issued an infringement notice but were not aware that Hoffman was on parole.
It seems clear that police stopping offenders do not routinely check whether someone they pull up is one of the 196 people currently on electronic monitoring, including people on parole, suspended sentences, home detention and bail.
The body-worn video of the traffic officers had been reviewed, said Commissioner Kershaw, and “there was nothing that gave rise to anything suspicious when they pulled him over.
“Police officers have to act on reasonable suspicions and they did not have any at that point in time”.
How long did it take police to find out that he (the man who was caught speeding) was the man they later took into custody? he was asked.
“That took us a little while to piece everything together. Once we realised we had the electronic monitoring data available, we could piece it together, once we downloaded that information.”
Was that data used during the one hour of the rampage or was it afterwards?
“It was after he had been arrested.”
The media conference was told that the suspect went to the hospital on Sunday night. Was that confirmed by information obtained through the bracelet? Mr McNairn was asked.
Correction staff talked to him on the phone, he said, and “at the time the probation and parole officer physically checked COMMIT which is the electronic monitoring system to make sure he was actually in the hospital … so we confirmed by call and by electronic monitoring that he was in the Darwin hospital.”
Does the tracking device give real-time GPS data so you know where the wearer is at all times or does it have to be downloaded, he was asked.
“As I am led to believe it is live tracking.
“We were not aware that he was the offender committing that crime. As soon as we heard about the incident we checked the COMMIT system and we alerted police that this individual was in that locus, and that’s what prompted police to take the action they did.”
This last reply seems to contradict the reply quoted earlier that the data from the tracking device was not used until after the man’s arrest. The Alice Springs News is seeking clarification on this point.
UPDATE June 7, 4.08pm
We requested the clarification at 2.38pm yesterday, June 6. Police laid the charges at 3.40pm yesterday. At 2.53pm and 2.54pm today, NT Correctional Services and the police, respectively, advised that “as the matter is now before the courts” no further comment will be offered. Police said a file will be provided to the Coroner in due course. There was a 62 minute window yesterday in which clarification could have been provided.
By ERWIN CHLANDA