Buswell wife probed over recording

Headshot of Emily Moulton
Emily MoultonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Troy Buswell outside Magistrates Court
Camera IconTroy Buswell outside Magistrates Court Credit: Simon Santi The West Australian

The wife of former WA treasurer Troy Buswell is being investigated by police internal affairs for allegedly illegally recording her husband, a WA court was told.

Details surrounding the inquiry were revealed during Mr Buswell’s court appearance in the Perth Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The former Liberal leader is accused of repeatedly assaulting his estranged partner, Melissa Hankinson, a police officer, in various suburbs across WA — including Southern River, Subiaco, Yoongarillup and Vasse between 2015 and 2019.

Some of the allegations include that he attacked Ms Hankinson on Valentines in 2016, only weeks before they were married.

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Mr Buswell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During the hearing on Monday, his lawyer, Laura Willox, asked Magistrate Andrew Maughan to adjourn the matter for two months, citing what the defence say is a “conflict of interest” for the State Solicitor’s Office.

The SSO took carriage of the case file earlier this year.

Ms Willox told the court this represented a conflict of interest because the SSO is also handling a WA Police internal affairs complaint against Ms Hankinson.

She said the complaint surrounded the alleged “unauthorised recording” of her client by Ms Hankinson.

“We say they are relevant to those matters and to the factual matrix surrounding matters in this prosecution,” she added.

Ms Willox said she had sought advice from senior counsel on the issue and had put that advice “fairly and squarely” to the SSO.

It has yet to respond.

The court was also told prosecutors were still seeking to have Ms Hankinson deemed a “special witness”, which could mean she will have permission to give evidence by video-link from a remote room rather than face Mr Buswell in the courtroom.

Ms Willox said she did not think either party would be prejudiced by adjourning the matter until the trial allocation date in October.

She also asked for a general disclosure order be made.

The State Solicitor’s Office did not object to the adjournment.

Magistrate Maughan granted the adjournment but said a special appointment would need to be made before the trial allocation date if the alleged conflict of interest could not be resolved.

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