The top cop in New South Wales has angrily defended his force’s murder investigation into the cruise ship Ruby Princess against media claims that it “was a deliberate wild goose chase that would go on forever and find nothing”.
And Commissioner Mick Fuller has vehemently denied that a new and powerful inquiry that Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered midweek has in any way torpedoed his own police probe (artist’s impression above).
While Fuller admitted that his crack team of homicide detectives was “totally and utterly exhausted”, they continued to uncover crucial information about the ship that berthed in Sydney on March 19, spreading COVID-19 all over the place and killing 19.
That information could take months to evaluate before “any possible criminal charges could be brought against anyone”.
Commissioner Fuller’s comments came after Ms Berejiklian established that separate commission of inquiry into the ship, to be helmed by Bret Walker, the barrister who represented self-confessed paedophile protector George Pell.
“I angrily reject the notion that this new line of inquiry has virtually torpedoed my own,” he said. “It’s still running on course.”
The NSW police probe would continue and Commissioner Fuller said his homicide detectives had already established that the Ruby Princess:
Was built in 2008 by Fincantieri in Trieste, Italy, as a sister ship to Crown Princess and Emerald Princess.
Was turned over to Carnival Corporation and Princess Cruises in late October 2008.
Was formally named at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on November 6, 2008 by Trista and Ryan Sutter.
Is 951ft (290m) long with a beam of 118ft (36m) and a draught of 26ft (8m).
Has 19 decks.
Is powered by four V12 Wartsila Common Rail Diesel Generators, 2 x inline 8 Wartsila Common Rail Diesel Generators.
Has a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) achieved through twin propellors.
Has a capacity of 3,080 passengers, serviced by a crew of 1,100.
By gross tonnage she was the largest ship in the Princess fleet until the arrival of the new Royal Princess, and crucially:
Continued the modified Grand-class design with the nightclub moved just aft of the funnel, rather than suspended over the stern like the original designs, and
Commissioner Fuller said: “There’s still so much information my team needs to uncover before I can finally announce it’s really a job for the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force to eventually decide to do nothing about.”
“It’s why I’m completely rejecting claims that the Premier’s new committee of inquiry has somehow put my nose out of joint in some way or made my detectives’ probe redundant or unnecessary.
“If this new inquiry can come to the same conclusions we intend to reach after kicking this can as far down the road as we possibly can yet in a faster time frame, I’m all for it, as are my lads.”