Dave Hanna, ex-union boss, found guilty of destroying papers sought by royal commission
Hanna ordered documents destroyed the same day he received a notice from the royal commission. (AAP Image: Jono Searle)
An ex-union boss has avoided jail after being found guilty of dumping and burning tonnes of documents that might have been needed at a royal commission.
- A jury took seven hours to unanimously find Dave Hanna guilty of deliberately destroying documents
- The court heard Mr Hanna ordered their destruction the same day the union was contacted by the royal commission
- The prosecution told the court CCTV cameras were covered while documents were shifted
Former CFMEU Queensland president Dave Hanna was sentenced to nine months in prison for “recklessly” destroying documents in the lead-up to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
But he will avoid serving time after Judge Julie Ryrie released him on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Judge Ryrie described the matter as an “unusual” case.
At the beginning of his trial in the District Court in Brisbane last week, Hanna pleaded not guilty to deliberately destroying documents sought by the royal commission.
The prosecution claimed he ordered a large clean-up the same day he was sent an urgent notice for the production of paperwork for the royal commission, and covered cameras during the process.
Hanna’s defence argued the clean-up coincided with a merger and the cameras were covered up to protect workers’ rights.
It took jurors about seven hours to reach their unanimous verdict, delivered to the court on Monday afternoon.
The court had heard union members in the Bowen Hills office, including Hanna, received a notice to produce paperwork on April 1, 2014 for the royal commission.
In his closing address, prosecutor Glen Rice QC told jurors Hanna asked two employees to bring a trailer to the office to load boxes and take the paperwork to his house to burn on the same day he was sent the notice.
Hanna then took the rest to an Ipswich dump, where the attempt to burn all of the paperwork was unsuccessful.
The Crown said Hanna asked an administration officer where the CCTV cameras were and then instructed employee Robert Cameron to cover them with banners while documents were culled.
“There is evidence from his conduct that he considered that the process of the removal of documents from the union office should be accompanied by a degree of secrecy,” Mr Rice said.
“There is only one reason to cover cameras — and that is so they don’t record.
“If this was an innocent disposal of records, there was no credible reason to cover the cameras.”
The court heard Mr Hanna instructed a CFMEU employee to cover CCTV cameras while documents were being culled. (ABC News: Matt Watson)
Mr Rice told a sentencing hearing on Monday afternoon Hanna’s actions were not impulsive, but considered.
He said Hanna held the second-highest position in the union branch at the time and he “ought to have been exhibiting leadership”.
Defence barrister Mark McCarthy said his client had left the union movement in 2015 and was working as a builder’s labourer.
He said there was no suggestion any of the destroyed material was actually required by the trade union royal commission.
During the trial, former finance officer Cherie Shaw testified that Hanna asked her for $770 from petty cash to “bury documents” and asked her to get rid of the receipt, so she put it aside for shredding.
Mr Hanna’s lawyer told the court cameras were covered so workers were not filmed in the workplace. (AAP: John Pryke)
Mr McCarthy said Hanna did not bury documents and did not ask her to destroy the receipt.
He suggested Ms Shaw was trying to explain events she could not recall, and told the jury her evidence could not be relied upon.
The court heard the CFMEU held annual office clean-ups at Christmas time but in 2014 it was delayed because of a recent merger with the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF).
In his final argument, Mr McCarthy said the unions were in the middle of merging at the time the royal commission notice was issued.
“They are in the thick of the merger clean-up and getting rid of all the old stuff from the BLF, once it’s been scrutinised,” he said.
“Nothing was left behind. The boxes were checked … they were the old records from the BLF that were no longer required … redundant copies and so forth.
“There is not a word of evidence that there was anything else.
“There was full compliance with that notice.”
In handing down her sentence, Judge Ryrie told Hanna he had failed the union by bringing it into “disrepute”.
She told Hanna: “… you should have known better”.
Hanna refused to comment outside court, but his solicitor Terry Fisher said they would be lodging an appeal within days.
“Mr Hanna has strong grounds for appeal … the evidence amounts to mere speculation,” he said.