>Eight NSW police officers illegally sold steroids, in one case referring to it as ”perfume”, to fellow officers and others, it has been revealed.
The officers from Tamworth in northern NSW were using steroids bought over the internet and imported from Thailand.
Constable Matthew Walsh, 27, was sacked by the Police Commissioner in June last year for improperly using the steroid Ropel liquid testosterone and not reporting fellow officers for using the drugs.
The illegal steroid use was revealed in a judgment by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission after Mr Walsh appealed to get his job back.
The appeal was dismissed on March 23.
Mr Walsh, who had an interest in weight training and personal fitness, had organised with Senior Constable Nathan McCulloch, a former senior colleague at Tamworth police station, in May 2008 to purchase steroids.
It was alleged before his sacking that he failed to report that Mr McCulloch and up to six other officers, had used steroids, improperly imported the drug from Thailand and had improperly obtained steroids for others.
In December 2008 the Police Integrity Commission set up a covert Operation Oklahoma into possible steroid use and related misconduct by Mr McCulloch.
During the PIC inquiry Mr Walsh provided statements to assist investigations and agreed to give evidence in any subsequent court proceedings against Mr McCulloch and other officer and civilians.
Mr Walsh told the PIC that he knew Mr McCulloch used steroids after the senior officer suggested using the drugs to help his knee heal more quickly so he could play in a police rugby league tournament. Mr Walsh also admitted he had used steroids before joining the force.
In his submission to the IRC Mr Walsh said he agreed to buy steroids with Mr McCulloch, but later changed his mind and that he knew at least one person, a local businessman, was using steroids but did not report it to his superiors.
Mr Walsh said his involvement, revealed through a series of covert taped telephone conversations, ”was a serious lapse of judgment” and he was ”fearful” of reporting the misconduct of others because he ”knew he would draw attention to himself”.
Mr Walsh was sacked despite being provided with a ”letter of comfort” from a senior PIC investigator to Police Internal Affairs which had confirmed he had become a willing informant.
Mr McCulloch gave evidence to the PIC in which he admitted his own steroid use and importing the substance.
However he denied he was aware of steroid use by any other police officer.
In one of the telephone intercepts in July 2008 one of the officers targeted was recorded telling another officer that he had ordered ”some stuff” on the internet.
That conversation led to Internal Affairs police and Australian Customs raiding Mr McCulloch’s home five days later – where investigators found 100 tablets of Anadrol and two bottles of steroid Nandrolin.
In other calls the officers referred to the drugs as ”perfume” because they thought their phones were being tapped.
In his decision to reject Mr Walsh’s application for wrongful dismissal Justice Conrad Staff said: ”I consider the public interest in maintaining the integrity of the NSW Police Force must result in the conclusion that the removal of (Walsh) … was not harsh, unreasonable or unjust”.
Justice Staff said that public interest demands that Mr Walsh should not be allowed to return to the NSW Police Force.
A secret internal police investigation has smashed a steroid smuggling ring operating inside the NSW Police Force.
The two-year operation, codenamed Oklahoma, exposed at least eight serving officers allegedly using and distributing non-prescribed steroids, anabolic steroids and human growth hormones.
The investigation focused on a group called the “Tamworth four”, who Industrial Relations Commission documents alleged ran the steroid ring and talked about taking out a fellow officer who could have endangered their operation.
Details of the operation, which ran until last year, were revealed in a Commission hearing where an officer sacked for steroid use lodged an unsuccessful bid to get his job back.Constable Matthew Walsh claimed his sacking by police commissioner Andrew Scipione last June was harsh.
The Commission heard that using listening devices on mobile and police station phones, Operation Oklahoma’s initial target was Tamworth senior constable Nathan McCulloch – a 15-year veteran of the NSW Police Force.
It was told the ring involved three other officers including McCulloch’s wife, Elisa Maree McCulloch, a senior constable with 20 years’ experience.
Another senior constable, Terri Whitton, was recorded having conversations with officers about sourcing steroids from her then boyfriend Ben Wilson – a forward for the Wee Waa Panthers rugby league team.
Constable Matthew Walsh admitted to using steroids sourced from McCulloch on multiple occasions, the court heard. He also admitted to being aware that the steroids were imported over the internet from Thailand and from other people in Australia.
All four officers were either sacked from the force or allowed to resign.
The documents also revealed the group was linked to local business people, rugby league players and at least four other serving officers, including one in Queensland who was known as “Fridge”. None were prosecuted due to a lack of evidence, a police source said.
The four sacked officers were hauled before the Police Integrity Commission.
Evidence given in the Industrial Commission was that the steroids were imported via post from Thailand and from a local network in the Tamworth area.
When police raided McCulloch’s home in 2008 he allegedly sent an SMS to his wife which said: “get the steroids out of the house”.
Before that, the Commission heard that investigating officers intercepted a phone call between McCulloch and Walsh where they discussed another officer, Troy “Ling Ling” Rowland, who they said was “skiting off about the perfume”, referring to pro-growth hormones. The two men discussed “doing a Brasco on him”, Commission documents said. Asked if that meant “taking him out”, Walsh said: “Yeah, possibly.”
Whitton was ordered in Armidale Court to perform 150 community service hours after being convicted of giving false or misleading evidence to a commission on March 11.
Nathan McCulloch was fined $2500 after he was convicted on five charges including possessing an illegal steroidal agent, forging a prescription and drug supply.
Elisa McCulloch was charged but was not convicted.
The NSW Police Drug and Alcohol Policy states that officers are prohibited from using anabolic steroids or other steroids unless they are prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons.
A NSW Health spokesman said it is illegal to possess non-prescribed steroids.
A spokesman for the NSW Department of Health said all were anabolic steroids which are illegal unless prescribed by a doctor.