A criminal lawyer today narrowly avoided prison after he was found guilty by a jury of trying to bribe police officers with cash when he was caught drink driving.
- Douglas John Winning was sentenced to nine months’ prison, wholly suspended
- Police body-worn camera vision was shown in court of the night Winning was caught drink driving, when he said to officers, “Can’t pay my way out of this, can I?”
- His defence argued the comment was a drunk joke and that he had no intent to actually bribe the officers
Douglas John Winning, 67, pleaded not guilty to one count of official corruption in the Rockhampton District Court and went to trial over the matter this week.
It was alleged he had tried to bribe two police officers, Senior Constable Jesse Parkin and Constable Naomi Davies, with $300, when he was intercepted while drink driving in North Rockhampton on February 17 last year.
During the trial the jury was shown three videos, including two of police body-worn camera vision from the police officers.
The footage played in court showed a shirtless, intoxicated Winning sitting in his car as police approached him after they pulled him over at about 1:00am.
The vehicle had significant damage to the bonnet and a flat front tyre, but when police inspected it and informed Winning he was unaware of the damage.
Winning told police he had drunk two bottles of rum in the prior 24 hours and had taken antidepressant medication, which he had been on 20 years.
‘Can’t pay my way out of this can I?’
A breath test was taken on the scene and Winning registered 0.191 blood alcohol content.
Back at the station a short time later he registered a blood alcohol content of 0.146.
Footage showed Winning stepping unsteadily out his car while talking to the officers, pulling $300 cash from his wallet and saying, “Can’t pay my way out of this, can I?”.
Senior Constable Parkin dismissed the comment and said, “No, you definitely can’t pay your way out of this”.
He then waved the cash around again and said, “Do you want a lazy quid?” to the officers.
“No, no, not at all. Come over here, let’s get you in the car,” Senior Constable Parkin said.
The footage then showed the officers as they drove back to the police station and Winning was heard slurring and rambling.
Winning spoke about his daughter being threatened by someone and that he was driving to his former wife’s house to deal with the matter.
He also threatened to kill the person he said threatened his daughter.
The court heard Winning also made unprofessional and inappropriate comments to Constable Davies, which he was repeatedly told were not appropriate.
He also told police he was “Queensland’s best criminal lawyer”.
‘A drunken, mischievous joke’
Another video shown to the jury was an interview Winning did with a news journalist outside court after he was sentenced over the drink driving offence.
In the interview, Winning said he was embarrassed and ashamed of the drink driving, but claimed his innocence with the official corruption charge.
He said he had “no intent to corrupt anybody” and it was “a drunken mischievous joke”.
‘Buying’ his way out of trouble: prosecution
Crown Prosecutor Nigel Rees told the jury Winning was clearly trying to buy his way out of trouble and, despite his intoxicated state, had the intent to bribe the officers.
“The video interaction with police speaks for itself,” Mr Rees said.
“This accused offers money … he has a fistful of 50s while saying, ‘I can’t buy my way out of this, can I?’
“He is offering the officers money, knowing he’s intoxicated, knowing he shouldn’t be driving, knowing he’s in trouble.
“It’s not a joke. He went to the trouble of pulling out the money and showing it to the officer … this is an offer to buy himself out of trouble.”
Mr Rees argued that Winning, through his admission in the interview with the journalist, he was attempting to make a joke with the officers, which proved he knew what he was doing and that he had the intent to the bribe officers.
‘Not thinking clearly’: defence
Defence Barrister Craig Eberhardt told the jury Winning’s comment was just the drunk “ramblings” of an old man, with no intent of actual corruption.
“A great many people have said and done crazy stuff … after giving the Bundy a good nudge,” Mr Eberhardt said.
“People say things they would never say when they’re sober, people say things they do not mean.
“In essence, that’s what this case is all about; the piss ramblings of an old drunk man.”
Mr Eberhardt argued Winning’s comment did not hold the significance the prosecution put on it.
“He wasn’t thinking too clearly that night in all sorts of ways,” Mr Eberhardt said.
“He got in a car, he could hardly walk, drifted off in the middle of sentences
“And so you need to bear in mind we are not talking about the actions of a person who is stone cold sober.”
Guilty verdict: ‘You should have known better’
The jury took just over three hours to find Winning guilty of one count of official corruption.
He was sentenced to nine months’ prison, wholly suspended for 18 months.
In sentencing, Judge Craig Chowdhury said the maximum penalty for a charge of official corruption was seven years’ jail, however Winning’s case was on the lower end of offending.
He said Winning had been a solicitor for 34 years and should have been aware of the seriousness of his actions.
“You should have known better than anyone, the seriousness of what you were doing,” Judge Chowdhury said.
“I have no doubt if you hadn’t have drunk as much as you had you probably would never have done it … despite that, it’s not an excuse.
“You took a chance and unfortunately that chance has now landed you in the District Court as a convicted criminal.”
Judge Chowdhury said Winning would also lose his practicing solicitor’s certificate as a result of the sentence.
“You have brought disgrace not only upon yourself but on your profession.”