Detective Chief Inspector Pamela Young has been removed from the investigation into the death of Scott Johnson.
As Q News reported last week, New South Wales coroner Michael Barnes has ordered a rare third inquest into the Johnson case.
The coroner also requested that DCI Young (pictured) be removed from the case after the detective gave an “unprecedented” interview to ABC’s Lateline in which she candidly suggested that Johnson’s death in 1988 was a suicide.
Johnson’s body was found at the base of a cliff in Manly and his family has always believed he was the victim of a gay hate crime.
The initial inquest ruled suicide but a subsequent inquest in 2012 delivered an open verdict.
In a letter from senior crown solicitor Naomi Malhotra, it is claimed DCI Young engaged in a departure from the usual standards of conduct by telling the Lateline program she thought Johnson had most likely suicided.
The NSW coroner acknowledged that DCI Young had an intimate knowledge of the very complex investigation and that she had devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to it.
But in the same letter the coroner criticised DCI Young for what he called an “unprecedented” interview.
“In any event, the state coroner considers the continued involvement of DCI Young will make it very difficult to regain the confidence of the key stakeholders in the inquest and may have a tendency to detract from the real issues, namely the determination of the manner and cause of Scott Johnson’s death,” the letter states.
The coroner said a new investigator should be appointed to the case to restore public confidence in the impartiality of and commitment to the investigation.
The ABC reports Detective Sergeant Penelope Brown will replace DCI Young.