New South Wales Police Force
Detective Senior Constable
Regd. # ?
Stations: Chatswood JIRT office
31 years old
Suicide – Firearm
at Chatswood JIRT office – opposite Police Station
Died 24 November 2005
Buried / Cremated: ?
At Chatswood police station in November 2005, Detective Senior Constable Patrick Cleary shot himself dead before colleagues arrived for work.
Again a policeman clocks on, kills himself
November 25, 2005
What possesses some people to do the unspeakable to little children – even their own?
Patrick Cleary was a police officer who plunged into the dark secrets of families to catch sex offenders or those who preyed on and cruelly abused children.
Yesterday, barely six years after joining the NSW Police Service, and three years after becoming a detective, the 31-year-old was found shot dead in an apparent suicide.
The Police Operations Commander, Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione, said the death marked a sad day for the NSW Police. At least three other officers in the past four years have taken their own lives in stations with their own service weapons.
“Today is a very tragic day for the NSW Police Force. We have lost a very, very good officer,” Mr Scipione said. “At this stage I might indicate that there appear to be no suspicious circumstances and it has just been a terrible, terrible tragedy. I am told he was a first-class officer, and that is a real loss to us.”
Detective Cleary, who grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches, had since July been in charge of the Chatswood Joint Investigation Response Team, comprising four detectives and four investigators from the Department of Community Services.
The unit had responsibility for investigating all child abuse cases from North Sydney to Hornsby, on Sydney’s outskirts.
The tight-knit unit which dealt with the stuff of nightmares – little children recounting their ordeals at the hands of abusers – coped by reassuring themselves that whatever the outcome, even traumatic family separations, they were protecting the weak.
But police said yesterday that no one recognised the emotional turmoil within Detective Cleary.
His death, which has shocked officers in all nine metropolitan joint investigation response teams as well as the 60-officer Child Protection and Serious Sex Crimes Squad at Parramatta, is the subject of an intensive investigation by a critical incident team from the homicide squad.
But Mr Scipione, who addressed Detective Cleary’s distraught colleagues, said the death was not being treated as suspicious.
He said the officers and the DOCS investigators who worked with Detective Cleary were receiving counselling.
Those in the response teams received counselling every three months to determine how they were coping, but this would now be reviewed.
“No one ever knows why these tragedies happen. We may never know,” he said.
Detective Cleary’s widowed mother was comforted by the head of the Child Protection and Serious Sex Crimes Squad, Helen Begg, who broke the news to her at her home yesterday.
Police said it appeared Detective Cleary had arrived early for work, disconnecting the alarm to the office.
He had been dead for up to an hour before his body was found. There was a single gunshot wound to the head.
A co-worker found him in a room away from his office at 8.45am. Lying beside his body was his Glock semi-automatic service pistol. There was no note.
Police said Detective Cleary had graduated from the police academy in September 1999.
For the three years he worked at Dee Why and Manly police before joining the Chatswood JIRT team as a Senior Constable.
“He dealt with the problems of fragile young people, taking it in. It’s not a good thing,” one officer said yesterday.