Queensland Government’s criminal history checks fail to pick up third public servant

FRESH concerns have emerged over the State Government’s ability to vet staff after revelations that a third public servant with a criminal history has been discovered this year.

Criminal Background Check

Just days after revealing a man who allegedly embezzled $16 million from Queensland Health had a criminal history in New Zealand, The Courier-Mail has learnt that Corrective Services has hired a prison guard convicted of drug and weapon offences.

The guard was handed a job because a person ticked a wrong box during the check process.

Jennifer Dann was employed full-time by Queensland Corrective Services in July and worked at the Brisbane and Woodford correctional centres.

Dann was sacked three months later but only after concerns from an outsider were raised that a woman with her criminal history would be allowed to guard prisoners.

This follows a blunder in March when a Croatian man on Interpol’s most wanted list was discovered working as a state government security guard after 18 months patrolling the executive building and courts.

The Government does not undertake its own criminal checks, rather it sends names of applicants to the Queensland Police Service, which runs them through the national criminal database Crimtrac. The information is returned to the departments for their assessment.

According to court records, Dann has a conviction recorded at Caboolture Magistrates Court in 2000 for possession of a dangerous drug and weapon as well as secure storage of a weapon.

Acting Corrective Services Commissioner Marlene Morrison acknowledged the error and said the check did pick up her history and her job application was rejected. However, an administrative error resulted in Dann’s employment after she sought a review.

Ms Morrison said Dann worked full-time at Brisbane Correctional Centre and Woodfood Correctional Centre for three months but was sacked the day after they found out.

A review of the criminal history checking established that an administration officer mistakenly ticked the incorrect box on a form” she said.

Ms Morrison said there was no evidence of impropriety during Dann’s tenure, but did not say if other people with criminal histories had been employed as prison guards.

In similar circumstances, the Department of Public Works only became aware of the past of security guard Marino Katalinic, 36, after he held his job for 18 months.

He was sacked on May 31 this year after he was found guilty of impersonating a police officer and The Courier-Mail revealed he was wanted by Croatian authorities over drug and theft convictions from 2004.

Responding to the Government’s failure to pick up on Morehu-Barlow’s criminal history, Police and Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts this week acknowledged flaws with the system.

The three cases raise serious questions about the State Government’s handling of employees’ criminal checks.

The latest revelations come as three senior health managers were stood down on full pay by Queensland Health yesterday pending an investigation into the failure to detect the illegal transfer of millions of dollars.

But the decision sparked fresh calls for Health Minister Geoff Wilson to be sacked as the Opposition insisted the Bligh Government had a long record of blaming only bureaucrats.

Police have charged Brisbane socialite and Health purchasing officer Joel Morehu-Barlow with one count of defrauding the department of $11 million.

An investigation last year cleared him of any wrongdoing despite a detailed complaint, while payments of $4 million to a trading entity set up by Morehu-Barlow are outlined in the department’s annual reports.

(Courier Mail, Alison Sandy and Steven Wardill, 15/12/2011)

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