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No leniency for top SA cop's guilty 'mate'

AAP logoAAP 1/11/2016

A high-ranking South Australian police officer who has pleaded guilty to causing a motorcycle crash won't get special treatment because he's the police commissioner's "mate".

Assistant Commissioner Philip Newitt has pleaded guilty to aggravated driving without due care over a crash that seriously injured a motorcyclist in the Adelaide Hills on December 28.

He is yet to be sentenced and also faces possible disciplinary action from Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

"I've known Phil for about 25 years. So I suppose I would describe him in some context as a mate," Mr Stevens told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"But there's a professional relationship there and I have obligations as the commissioner to deal with it in a professional way.

"Any decision I make I am confident will withstand scrutiny."

The commissioner said this would not be the first time he will put friendship aside to make a fair and meritorious professional decision.

In his role Mr Stevens is involved in the selection and promotion of senior management at SA Police but he would not let his social life affect these decisions.

"There are people who I would call friends who miss out on those positions because it's in the best interests of the organisation and based on merit," he said.

"And this is one of those occasions where I'll be called on to do that."

Mr Stevens said Newitt remains on full pay and after the mandatory appeal period of 28 days the commissioner will decide whether to discipline his trusted assistant.

"I have to make a decision as to whether his actions or behaviour have an impact on the reputation of the police service or police officers generally," he said.

Newitt, 44, caused serious head injuries to motorcylist Ben Townsend when he entered an intersection in Cudlee Creek and failed to see the rider.

Mr Townsend spent two days in intensive care at Royal Adelaide Hospital and required metal plates, pins and screws to repair his injuries.

In court, Newitt apologised unequivocally to Mr Townsend and expressed his remorse for failing to take care on the roads.

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