Saturday, April 5, 2014

CCTV catches Qld. cops out

<i>Video at link</i>

THIS is the video ex-football star Campbell Brown says shows he copped a “coathanger” from Gold Coast police.

Brown says the CCTV footage proves officers were out of bounds when they arrested him at a Broadbeach nightclub earlier this year.

Police last week dropped charges of obstructing police and attempting to force his way back into East nightclub during a night of celebrations after his horse Sweet Idea won the Magic Millions Trophy race in January.

Police initially claimed the former Gold Coast Suns player had shoulder-charged them.

But Brown has accused police of fabricating charges against him. “Police basically made up a story,’’ he told News Corp Australia last week.

“We caught them out by getting the CCTV footage of what actually happened. To be brutally honest, that was an absolute disgrace. They (police) had to throw out the case in embarrassment.’’

A police statement of facts, obtained by The Courier-Mail, alleges Brown was refused entry to East, where he had been drinking with friends, but was argumentative and refused to leave.

But his lawyer, Chris Nyst, said the CCTV footage showed “quite clearly that the incident did not occur in the way asserted by police”.

Mr Nyst said the footage showed Brown apparently waiting peacefully outside the nightclub while a friend went inside to retrieve the ex-footballer’s credit card.

It then shows Brown later being led down an alleyway by police, thrown to the ground and handcuffed after his friend becomes agitated.

“Once I had the opportunity to review the footage, it was immediately apparent to me it did not support the police version of events,’’ Mr Nyst said.

“I brought that footage to the attention of the chief prosecutor, whereupon he promptly — and in my view very sensibly — agreed to discontinue the prosecution.’’

Mr Nyst said police claims they withdrew the charges because of a lack of clarity in the footage “are simply not correct”.

“This case is a good example of why people should not prejudge such matters,’’ he said.  “Brown copped a lot of sledging from people who knew nothing about the charges. We have a presumption of innocence, and this is a timely reminder of what good sense that makes.’’

Brown was sacked by the Suns after breaking teammate Steven May’s jaw on a pre-season trip to the US last November.

Note:  A coathanger is a dangerous high tackle in Australian rules football, Rugby League, and Rugby Union. It occurs when a running player is stopped by an arm to the chest or neck and usually gets knocked backward onto their back. ...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Qld.: Police indifference kills child

THE freckled face of 13-year-old Jordan Rice made headlines around the world when he died with his mother in a flash flood that hit Toowoomba three years ago.

Blond-haired Jordan's final selfless act, urging a rescuer to save his little brother Blake ­before him, touched hearts everywhere, and moved Prince William to fly to Queensland to console his family.

But this is a story of what happens when the cameras go away and a family is left to pick up the pieces. I

It is also a story about the grim undercurrent of suspicion remaining between the survivors and authorities they feel compounded their troubles, in the wake of intense media attention.

It begins with the triple-0 call made by Donna Rice, 43, at 1.50pm on January 10, 2011, as she sat in her stalled Mercedes at a red light in a main street of Toowoomba with floodwaters swirling around her wheels. Jordan and Blake, 11, were in the back seat.

A coronial inquest found the man who answered Donna's call, Senior Constable Jason Wheeler "did not treat her call with the seriousness it warranted and did not treat her with respect". That's putting it mildly.

Wheeler chastised Donna for driving into floodwaters, when in fact the coroner found she had cautiously stopped in shallow water while other cars forged ahead.

But the water rose unusually fast and within minutes engulfed the car, forcing Donna and her boys onto the roof.

When Donna asked Wheeler to call a tow truck, he retorted: "You ring the tow truck company yourself."

He assigned Donna's call a low priority, and no help was dispatched.

Seven minutes later Jordan rang triple-0: "We're nearly drowning, hurry up please."

By then, two passing strangers Warren McErlean and Chris Skehan were risking their lives. Warren, 41, was knocked over twice in the swift-running water.

When Chris reached the car, Warren recalls Jordan and his mother urged him to take Blake.

"After Jordan told the rescuer to take me first, the guy said, 'C'mon little man, it will be OK'," Blake testified.

Chris passed the boy to Warren, who carried him to safety. But by the time he made it back to Donna and Jordan, the water had risen so fast the car was washed away. Chris managed to grab hold of a power pole but Donna and Jordan drowned.

It was a horrendous scene, watched by a screaming Blake.

But what happened next only compounded the grief.

Donna's partner and the ­father of her four boys, John Tyson, 49, still burns about police allegations that Jordan urged his mother to drive through the floodwaters, a claim later rejected by the coroner.

Police also claimed Donna displayed no urgency when talking to triple-0, and that emergency calls that day were handled "brilliantly".

John alleged in the Queensland's Floods Commission that 17 days after his wife and son died, he was heavied by a police inspector, who told him not to speak to the media about the triple-0 calls.

The officer did not return our calls but at the commission denied threatening John, and tendered the transcript of a ­recording he made of their conversation on a wristwatch recorder.

The partial transcript and audio, stored in the Queensland State Archives, do not show any threats made.

John says the transcript is incomplete and the officer's secret recording indicates an adversarial approach.

In any case, after the tragedy, John was beset by problems and felt abandoned by his hometown. He lost his plastering business, and took the $145,000 insurance money to the Gold Coast to start afresh with Blake, now 13.

He works as a labourer but struggles to pay the mortgage on his new house, and may have to return to Toowoomba.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sydney woman gets $243,000 for leg broken by NSW cops

A Sydney arts student has won more than $243,000 in damages after a scuffle with police ended with her leg broken.

Rachel Gardner sued the state of NSW, claiming she was attacked by NSW Police officers after being caught without a train ticket at Cronulla Railway Station in Sydney's south on March 13, 2011.

Ms Gardner claimed Sergeant Craig Sands kicked both her legs out from under her, breaking her right leg.

The 36-year-old also claimed police directed a transit officer to sit on her as she lay on the ground.

Police then loaded her into a paddy wagon and dumped her at another train station in the Sutherland area.

She had sought damages of up to $750,000 for the injuries, humiliation, anxiety and loss of social status.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, Judge Sharron Norton ordered the state of NSW pay the student $243,591 in damages, plus interest.

Outside court, Ms Gardner's solicitor Penelope Purcell said her client was very pleased with the result.

"She feels vindicated by the judgment," she said.

Asked whether she was looking forward to returning to studies, Ms Gardner replied "absolutely".

During a court hearing last year, the Crown argued Ms Gardner's level of intoxication, as perceived by Sgt Sands, should be considered.

However, Ms Gardner's lawyer claimed the police officer's actions were intentional and intended to cause injury.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two policemen found guilty of Taser assault against Kevin Spratt

KEVIN Spratt is relieved that two policemen who repeatedly tasered him in a Perth lockup were today convicted of assault, saying it confirms "no one is above the law."

Auxiliary officer Troy Gregory Tomlin, 34, was found guilty of all three charges of common assault, while Sergeant Aaron Grant Strahan, 45, was convicted of three of four charges. The fourth common assault charge could not be proven.

Strahan and Tomlin have been on trial for six days, jointly accused of common assault over the tasering of Mr Spratt in the East Perth watch house in September 2008.

CCTV footage showed the senior constables tasering Mr Spratt nine times in just over a minute after he refused to be stripsearched.

In handing down his decision in Perth Magistrates Court this afternoon, Magistrate Richard Bromfield acquitted Strahan of the fourth assault charge because there was insufficient evidence that the Taser actually struck Mr Spratt on that occasion.

He convicted the officers of all other charges, saying there was no reason for self-defence and their actions were "not authorised or justified."

Mr Bromfield will sentence the officers tomorrow morning.

Mr Spratt was not in court today, but in a statement issued after the verdict he said it was a "huge relief that justice has finally been delivered."

"I am pleased that the court has confirmed that no one is above the law and a Taser should only be used as a last resort," he said.

"I am hopeful that today's convictions and the views previously expressed by the CCC will make it less likely others would suffer at the hands of police misusing their power."

Mr Spratt will soon apply to the Attorney-General for an ex-gratia compensation payment. If that is unsuccessful, he will consider launching a civil case against the two officers and possibly others.

The policemen were charged following an inquiry by the Corruption and Crime Commission in a case that made international headlines. In April 2012, the CCC recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider laying charges against the pair.

The officers' defence lawyer Karen Vernon has argued for spent convictions and either a good behaviour bond or fines rather than imprisonment.  She said it had been a "long and dark period" for her clients.

Both officers were senior constables at the time, but Strahan has since been promoted to a sergeant while Tomlin has become an auxiliary officer for WA Police.

Ms Vernon submitted Tomlin stepped down from frontline policing over the events in question.

"It seems that for them this is a situation that just continues to play out and play out in the public arena," she said.

Tomlin and Strahan had already been fined $1200 and $750 respectively after an internal WA Police disciplinary hearing and they had suffered personal condemnation and shame, she said.

Ms Vernon also said her clients, who could lose their jobs as a result of the verdict, would seek to apply for a spent conviction as it would dent their employment prospects.

However, state prosecutor James MacTaggart said a spent conviction would "trivialise" the pair's conduct and submitted a "substantial fine" would be appropriate.

During the trial, Ms Vernon argued that Mr Spratt had became uncontrollable and the officers had used justifiable force as Mr Spratt was extremely difficult to restrain.

But Mr MacTaggart said Mr Spratt wasn't posing a threat to anyone.

"To the extent that it's suggested that the application (of the taser) was self-defence ... we say that was not a reasonable response in the circumstances," Mr MacTaggart said.  "On the floor he didn't constitute a threat.  "With so many officers around ... there was simply no need to exercise the taser again."

The court was told that when Tomlin first tasered Mr Spratt he said "give me your hand or you're going to get f...... tasered" before he went on to taser Mr Spratt for three seconds.

After Strahan first tasered Mr Spratt, he then him "do you want to go again? Do you want to go again?" before shocking him for another five seconds.

Monday, January 20, 2014

One in every 40 serving police officers in NSW has committed an offence

THERE are 437 serving police officers with criminal convictions, that is one in every 40 officers.  It is an incredible increase of 230 per cent over the past five years.

Among the ranks is an inspector convicted of assaulting an off-duty ­officer and drink-driving while other offences include bashing, drink-driving, fraud, illegal use of guns and other driving offences.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the 437 officers have 591 convictions against them. That is 256 per cent more than 2008 when, according to freedom of information figures, there were 166 offences between 133 serving officers.

Among them are 14 inspectors, five senior sergeants, 80 sergeants, 236 ­senior constables, 20 probationary ­constables and 13 student officers.

Policing expert Michael Kennedy said the reason for the increase was probably due to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione taking a tough line and a culture of police reporting and prosecuting their own.

"On face value these figures appear to be negative for the police but on the other side, Scipione does not interfere," Dr Kennedy said.

Dr Kennedy, a former detective and lecturer in policing at the University of Western Sydney, said some police chiefs in parts of Australia had been known for "having a word" with officers facing the criminal courts so they could resign quietly.  "But Scipione does not do that. If they are charged, he lets the system deal with them," he said.

Former assistant commissioner Clive Small said: "An increase of over 200 per cent over five years is a worrying trend that the police and the ­government need to keep an eye on."

In cases still in the courts, a female officer has been charged with stalking, intimidating and bugging, a male officer has been accused of setting up a bathroom spy camera to secretly film people and theft, lying and corruption.

Mr Scipione said he had no tolerance for officers who broke the law and committed serious offences.  "If an officer's offence causes me to lose my confidence in them, I will sack them. They will not be part of this police force," he said.

However he said less serious ­offences should not warrant the end of a career but often the workplace penalties were worse than court penalties with officers demoted.

"Yes, there are officers still in this ­organisation who we have charged and who have recorded a conviction," Mr Scipione said.

"In the majority of cases, these officers will have been convicted of a low range PCA or similar offence. While I am not happy about that, I don't believe that warrants the end of a ... career."

Since he took over as commissioner in 2007, Mr Scipione has sacked 87 officers under section 181D of the Police Act, which states the commissioner has lost confidence in them.  Those are officers who have not been reinstated by the Industrial ­Relations Commission.

Senior police are known to be frustrated with the IRC which has forced them to reinstate an estimated half of all sacked officers after appeals.

The IRC has made it clear in their decisions that even a high-range PCA or similar offence could never be grounds for dismissal.

Former sergeant Andrew Lawrance, who the commissioner tried to sack in 2010 because he used his penis piercing to open beer bottles, was reinstated by the IRC.

Mr Scipione was warned about criticising the commission in 2009 by Justice Frank Marks, who considered contempt of court proceedings against the commissioner

Friday, December 13, 2013

Australian Police to be charged over Taser death of Brazilian

Four police officers who were involved in the violent and lethal arrest of a young Brazilian student will have criminal assault charges laid against them.

Roberto Laudisio Curti, 21, died on Pitt Street in the early hours of March 18, 2012, following a chase by, and violent struggle with, 11 police officers, many of whom were acting on incorrect reports of an armed robbery.

He had earlier jumped the counter of a convenience store in an LSD-induced psychotic state and left with two packets of biscuits.

The talented football player had been out in Kings Cross celebrating a win with friends but ended up roaming the city's streets on his own in a paranoid, sweaty state.

Two police officers spotted him wandering down Pitt Street and tried to speak to him before he ran off. More officers joined the chase and eventual restraint.

Tasers were fired up to 14 times - nine of which hit Mr Curti - and he was restrained by seven officers using three cans of OC spray, two sets of handcuffs, a police baton and "half a tonne" of officers, an inquest heard last October.

State Coroner Mary Jerram stopped short of recommending criminal charges and instead referred the matter to the Police Integrity Commission when she handed down scathing findings.

The Police Integrity Commission referred an extensive brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions in May, recommending that some of the officers be charged.

On Friday, the DPP advised the PIC that there was sufficient evidence to charge four of the officers.

It is expected that Senior Constable Scott Edmondson and Constable Daniel Barling will be charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and Senior Constable Eric Lim and Senior Constable Damien Ralph will be charged with the lesser offence of common assault.

Senior Constable Edmondson Tasered Mr Curti twice in the back as he lay on the ground resisting arrest and was one of five officers picked out by Ms Jerram for their "reckless, careless, dangerous and excessively forceful" actions.

Constable Barling was also chastised for Tasering Mr Curti five times in "drive stun" mode whereby the Taser is pressed against the skin rather than shot from afar.

Senior Constable Ralph used three partial cans of capsicum spray on Mr Curti, possibly as close as 10 centimetres from his face, while several police officers were on top of him.

Senior Constable Lim told the inquest that he tried to tackle Mr Curti twice but, considering he weighed just 55 kilograms, fired his Taser once to bring Mr Curti to the ground and another time when Mr Curti was on the ground in handcuffs.

Ms Jerram found that the police officers acted "like schoolboys in Lord of the Flies" and their "thuggish" actions contributed to the death of Mr Curti.

It is expected that the DPP will lay the charges in the next week and the four officers will appear before a court in the new year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Global porn ring: W.A. detective jailed over child images

A WA police detective caught up in a worldwide operation combating child pornography has been jailed for more than two years by a judge in Perth.

Lynton John Moore, 30, was one of hundreds of men arrested after a global operation to track down the client list of a Canadian-hosted website which allowed customers to trade and purchase child sex images and videos.

In June, Moore was raided by his WA police colleagues who found more than 20,000 images and videos featuring boys as young as seven being exploited.

He also refused to hand over the password to the hard disks containing the images - which Judge Ronald Birmingham said were "vile and degrading".

Moore, who briefly worked as a teacher before joining the police, was a decorated detective when he was arrested, having received a commendation for attempting to revive a murder victim, and being involved in church activities.

But lawyer Mark Andrews said his client also had deep underlying emotional and psychological issues including a lack of strategies to cope with job stresses.

He had lost his job as a result of the charges, Perth District Court was told, and as a former detective he will have to serve his sentence in a segregated special handling unit.

Moore pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing the material found in his home, and was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. He will be eligible for parole.

In all, more than 60 men and over 400 charges have been laid as part of Operation Thunderer, the Australian arm of the global operation emanating out of Canada.

That operation, codenamed Project Spade, was launched three years ago by Toronto police and is believed to have disbanded a global child abuse ring, and led to the arrest of almost 350 suspects worldwide.

Seven men from WA - including priests and teachers - were last week charged with various offences related to their alleged involvement.

Friday, November 22, 2013

W.A. cop threatens cyclist with rape -- but that's OK says Police commissioner

WESTERN Australia's top cop has backed the Perth policeman who has become an internet viral hit after being filmed swearing at a cyclist during a confrontation over a ticket.

Video footage of the confrontation posted on Facebook by John Martin attracted more than 21,300 likes in 24 hours, and was shared nearly 6000 times.

In the clip, the man argumentatively asks what crime he has committed and tells the officer to go "stop some criminals".

The policeman then walks close to the man and says: "If you swear one more time I will put you in the lock up for disorderly, just like last time".

"I will deny your bail and some big fella is going to play with your a....... during the night.  "If that's what you want, say one more swear word."

The police revealed the officer had admitted to overreacting, and Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said he would be counselled.

But an outpouring of public support for the officer also prompted the commissioner to back his man.

"He was under pressure from someone who is extremely cocky, had a very bad attitude ... the policeman was trying to do his job and he gets this tirade back. He lost his cool," the Commissioner told 6PR.

"This guy has accepted no blame for the escalation of the situation whatsoever. His total view of the world is it is somebody else's problem, they did the wrong thing and I was OK.

"The public have had enough of this general lack of respect for people in authority, and not just police."

The commissioner also said he would be asking investigators to inspect the Facebook page where the video was posted.  "Maybe he wants to run home from work and pull it down before we see it," Mr O'Callaghan said.

The incident occurred on Fyfe St, Forrestfield at about 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday, Mr Martin, 24, told Nine News he was considering pressing charges against the officer.  "It's unacceptable, police shouldn't be allowed to treat the public like that," he said.  "You shouldn't threaten anyone with rape, especially if you're a police officer."

Yesterday police Inspector Dominic Wood said the officer had admitted he acted inappropriately, but that the snippet of footage does not show the whole event.

"We have thousands of interactions every day with police officers talking to members of the public. This is rare," Insp Wood said.

"It's a tough job and that officer has come across somebody that's obviously pushed his buttons and tried to get a reaction.

"The officer wouldn't have known he was being recorded under those circumstances."

Police union president George Tilbury said officers dealt with the public 24 hours a day and were often involved in "frustrating and stressful situations."

"As the full video has not been uploaded and the entirety of the circumstances are unknown, it is very difficult to comment on the actions of the officer," Mr Tilbury said.

"However, police officers should always do their utmost to portray a professional image, which can be difficult given that they are under more scrutiny than any other profession.

"Our members need to be aware that in this modern age of technology their actions and interactions with the public will be filmed, often without their knowledge or permission."

Police Minister Liza Harvey indicated to reporters that using foul language was inappropriate but she would leave the matter to police to investigate internally.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Perth cop's anger goes viral in video

WA Police have confirmed they are investigating a video showing a heated confrontation between a traffic officer and a member of the public which has gone viral on Facebook.

The 45-second video shows an officer responding aggressively to comments made by the member of the public filming the incident.

The man was stopped by the first-class constable for riding a bike without a helmet in Forrestfield about 2.30pm on Tuesday.

At a press conference in Perth on Wednesday morning police confirmed they were investigating a video posted on Facebook by 'John Gds Martin' and that the constable had been spoken to by his direct supervisor.

The video, shared through the Facebook page "50 shades of straya", has been liked more than 15,000 times, shared more than 500 times and has received more than 4000 comments in the 14 hours since it was posted.

Inspector Dom Wood said the officer could have dealt with the situation in a more appropriate manner.

"The officer has admitted he could have dealt with things more appropriately and he is going to be spoken to about that," he said.

"We have to make it quite clear that this is a small snippet we saw on Facebook, we haven't seen the entirety of the incident so we have to look into it further.  "This is extremely rare, we don't get these incidents too often.

"This officer has come across someone who has pushed his buttons and tried to get a reaction.  "The officer wouldn't have known he was being recorded in those circumstances."

Inspector Wood would not rule out WA Police taking disciplinary action against the officer.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury said the work of a police officer could sometimes be stressful and agreed that the full circumstances of this particular incident were not yet known.

"Our members interact with the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week and on some of these occasions the situation can be quite frustrating and stressful," he said.

"As the full video has not been uploaded and the entirety of the circumstances are unknown, it is very difficult to comment on the actions of the officer.

"However, police officers should always do their utmost to portray a professional image, which can be difficult given that they are under more scrutiny than any other profession.

"Our members need to be aware that in this modern age of technology their actions and interactions with the public will be filmed, often without their knowledge or permission.”

NSW police use of stun guns under renewed scrutiny after CCTV shows teenager being tasered

Police use of stun guns to subdue suspects is under renewed scrutiny after an unarmed Sudanese-Australian student was tasered while handcuffed and surrounded by six officers in Sydney.

The altercation at Sydney's Blacktown train station occurred on June 20, when 17-year-old Einpwi Amom allegedly swore at police and ran off.

Mr Amom, who fled war-torn Sudan with his family in 2003 and settled in Sydney's west, had been out with a cousin on the night and decided to meet with friends at the station, where they often hung out.

The HSC student had been drinking, and earlier in the night had been asked by police to move along.

CCTV footage from the station shows a police officer approaching Mr Amom, who runs, fearing arrest.

An officer chases him to the other side of the station where the teenager falls and hits his head, knocking himself unconscious on the stairs.

"I started running and then they chased me," Mr Amom recalls.  "I was running, I was drunk and then I slipped - boom! Stacked it and hit my head."

The teenager was handcuffed and dragged down the stairs, where footage shows him lying motionless for nearly two minutes, only coming around as more officers arrive.

"I woke up again, I was like 'What the hell is going on?', and then I see coppers holding me, twisting my arm, my leg," he said.

"I was like, why are you doing this? It was like a gang just attacking me."

The footage shows Mr Amom struggling with police while a female friend of his begins filming the struggle on her mobile phone.

When officers bring the teenager to his feet he resists and, as commuters look on, an officer fires his Taser at the handcuffed teenager.

As Mr Amom writhes in pain, an officer says: "If you resist again, you'll be tasered again."

Although visibly weak, Mr Amom is hauled to his feet and forced to walk down stairs, with an officer saying, "Stand up and walk or you'll be tasered again."

Officers say their use of force was justified, however the teenager still struggles to understand his treatment.  "When I was tasered, I was already handcuffed," he said.

"There was six police officers and I still got tasered."

Ultimately, Mr Amom was charged with six offences: failing to comply with a direction, offensive language, resisting police officer in the course of duty and three counts of assaulting a police officer.

However, last week - after viewing the CCTV footage, as well as the mobile phone and Taser camera vision, the Parramatta Children's Court magistrate dismissed all six charges against Mr Amom.

He ruled that the officers acted outside the lawful execution of duty when placing him under arrest.

Usually minors before the Children's Court cannot be identified, however Mr Amom, now 18, and his mother consented to appear on 7.30 in order to tell his story.

The teenager's mother, Achol Amom, says her son was treated like an animal, adding: "I'm not happy with this."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NSW: Police change defence after video turns up

A group of police officers who allegedly broke the leg of an arts student and told her ''we don't care if it's legal'' have been allowed to change their defence at the eleventh hour after CCTV footage of the assault emerged.

Rachel Gardner is suing the NSW police force claiming she was kicked, sat on, handcuffed, pushed against a fence, loaded into a paddy wagon and then dumped at a nearby train station without charge after being caught without a train ticket on March 13, 2011.

Police initially denied the kick occurred but sought to amend their defence in the Sydney District Court on Monday, minutes before the beginning of a five-day trial, after Ms Gardner's legal team revealed they had obtained CCTV footage from Cronulla station.

On Tuesday, Judge Sharron Norton lambasted the force's barrister Matthew Hutchings for presenting an "entirely different" defence document on the morning of the trial but she allowed it and deferred the trial to November.

Ms Gardner, 36, was at Cronulla station with two tourist friends just before midnight when they were approached by transit officers and found to be without tickets.

An altercation ensued when the tourists couldn't produce identification and police attended. Ms Gardner claims that when she protested that one of the tourists was being pinned to the ground by a transit officer, Acting Sergeant Craig Sands kicked both her legs out from under her, breaking her right leg.

In her statement of claim, it is alleged Sergeant Sands then directed a transit officer to sit on her while she was lying face down on the platform before she was handcuffed, told she was under arrest and put in a paddy wagon.

When she objected to what she believed was an unlawful arrest, an officer said ''we don't care if this is legal'', the statement said. Ms Gardner was not taken to a police station and charged. Instead, she was driven to Sutherland railway station and ''left to fend for herself in a seriously injured condition''.

She is seeking damages of up to $750,000 for the injuries as well as the humiliation, disgrace, mental suffering, emotional distress, fear and anxiety, loss of social status and inconvenience caused by assault, false arrest and false imprisonment. A doctor's report says she will likely develop osteoarthritis within five to 10 years.

Her aspirations to become a filmmaker would also be hindered as well as attempts to get casual work while studying at the University of NSW College of Fine Arts, the court heard. Barrister Geoffrey Petty, SC, said the only record of the incident was a standard internal log that was ''brief in the extreme''. He said CCTV footage showed the kick ''as plain as daylight'' and also showed the officers chatting on the station as Ms Gardner limped away.

The police initially denied all Ms Gardner's claims and said she bit and kicked officers.

Mr Hutchings said this was because Ms Gardner's statement of claim was so vague and void of detail that it prevented them investigating the claims and preparing a proper response.

The trial will begin in November.

Monday, November 11, 2013

ACT: David Eastman murder case reopened

There has long been an odour about this case -- JR

Information suggesting David Harold Eastman might have been planning a ‘‘homicidal attack’’ on his trial judge was circulated to court staff in the lead up to the convicted murder's trial, an inquiry has heard.

The inquiry is trying to determine whether then chief justice Ken Carruthers had seen mental health reports on Eastman, and whether this could have created a perception of bias. A former registrar told the court on Monday that while the information had been circulated among staff, he had been careful not to tell Justice Carruthers.

Eastman was found guilty in 1995 of the 1989 murder of Assistant Australian Federal Police Commissioner Colin Winchester.

Mr Winchester was shot as he sat in his car in his neighbour’s driveway in Deakin one January night in 1989.

Eastman was found guilty of murder by a jury in 1995, and is serving life in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

But the conviction of Eastman, who has maintained his innocence, is the subject of an inquiry that formally began hearing evidence on Monday.

That inquiry was ordered by judge Shane Marshall last year because he was satisfied there was ’’fresh doubt’’ about Eastman’s guilt.

The inquiry has begun by looking at the existence of a number of mental health reports on Eastman, compiled by Dr Rod Milton, and whether they may have been given to the judge overseeing his trial, chief justice Carruthers, without being formally tendered in court.

One of those reports detailed alleged threats by Eastman, and the risk he may have posed to court staff.

Former Supreme Court registrar Alan Towell was the first witness to give evidence to the inquiry on Monday.

Mr Towell said the contents of the reports were disseminated to various members of the court, but he had been careful not to give the reports to the trial judge.

The inquiry heard that Dr Milton’s reports contained information suggesting that Eastman was a ‘‘significant risk’’ to chief justice Carruthers.

It heard the reports contained information suggesting he may have planned a ‘‘homicidal attack’’ on his trial judge.

Earlier on Monday morning, counsel assisting the inquiry, Liesl Chapman, SC, gave an opening submission outlining the questions expected to be addressed in the proceedings.

She identified nine categories of evidence in the Crown’s case against Eastman that were expected to be examined in the inquiry.

Those included questions about the evidence of his alleged purchase of the .22 rifle used to shoot Winchester, as well as issues with the forensic evidence linking gunshot residue and particles found in Eastman’s car boot, to that found at the crime scene.

The inquiry would also look at the Crown’s claims about Eastman’s motives for the killing.

These had revolved around his expulsion from the public service and anger over a pending assault charge.

There were questions over the threats Eastman was alleged to have made concerning Mr Winchester to others, and his alleged searching of electoral records for the Assistant Commissioner’s home address.

It would look at issues with the supposed confessions made by Eastman, which were recorded by potentially illegal bugs placed in his home at a time when he may have been suffering severe mental health issues. The inquiry would examine whether other hypotheses for the killing, including the possible involvement of the Calabrian mafia, had been dismissed.

It would also look at questions around Eastman’s fitness to plead, given his mental illness, and whether it was properly considered by the court.

Further evidence from the then Supreme Court registrar and an AFP Assistant Commissioner is expected to be heard on Monday afternoon.

Chinese man 'crawled from Victoria police cell, found in puddle'

A man released from custody who later died in hospital had asked police for medical help twice before he was found by paramedics lying in a puddle outside the station, the Coroners Court has heard.

Chinese national Gong Ling Tang, 53, died in hospital from a gastrointestinal haemorrhage in May 2010, hours after being released from custody at the Dandenong police station.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Rachel Ellyard, said on the first day of the inquest into Mr Tang's death that he had been arrested after breaching an intervention order by visiting his wife at her house in Oakleigh.

He was drunk and had soiled himself when police found him a short distance from the house.

Police arrested Mr Tang for being drunk in a public place and planned to interview him about the alleged breach of the order when he was sober enough.

About 7.20pm, four hours after being placed in the cells, Mr Tang was interviewed through the metal flap in the cell door because of his soiled condition.

Ms Ellyard said there was blood in the cell and Mr Tang, speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, complained of abdominal pain and said he wanted to go home or to the hospital.

Mr Tang was released on bail but could not walk and crawled out of his cell before using the wall to help him stand.

Ms Ellyard said there was a "conflict" about whether arrangements had been made to transfer Mr Tang from the station.

Mr Tang was unable to leave the station by himself so was placed outside, barefoot, by two police about 8pm. He complained again of abdominal pain shortly afterward and an ambulance was called at 8.13pm.

Another call to the ambulance was made about 8.46pm by a police officer to report that Mr Tang's condition had deteriorated and the ambulance arrived nine minutes later.

Paramedics found Mr Tang drenched in water and lying unprotected in a puddle.

At hospital he was found to be suffering from hypothermia and had severe liver failure. He died at 11.30am the next day.

Deputy State Coroner Iain West heard from a lawyer representing one of the officers that Mr Tang's death should not be considered a death in custody, which is the basis for the inquest, because it was due to an existing condition. An application was also made for some officers not to give evidence.

Mr Tang had been admitted to hospital four or five times in the three years before his death because of the state of his liver, Deputy State Coroner West heard.

He also heard that Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright, who was in court, had submitted a letter from Victoria Police expressing "great regret about the circumstances" in which Mr Tang had died.

Deputy State Coroner West has adjourned the inquest to consider the application.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rough justice for 'whistleblower' cop in Surfers Paradise police station bashing

A POLICE sergeant accused of leaking video footage of fellow officers bashing a prisoner has been charged with misconduct - while the ­alleged perpetrators are yet to face action 20 months on.

Chef Noa Begic was allegedly bashed by a group of officers in the basement of Surfers Paradise police station in January 2012.

Video footage obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail captured the shocking attack in full, but while two officers have been stood down over the incident awaiting an internal affairs investigation, the alleged whistleblower has been charged with police misconduct and will face a disciplinary hearing headed by Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

After an investigation by ethical standards, police will allege Sergeant Rick Flori "inappropriately obtained" official and confidential surveillance footage from the CCTV room of the Surfers Paradise police station and supplied it to the newspaper.

Sgt Flori's house was raided by police a few weeks later and he was transferred from the Surfers Paradise station.

He has now been charged with improper conduct and will face a hearing at a date to be fixed when he could face action including demotion.

In stark contrast, the two officers stood down over their alleged involvement in the shocking attack are yet to face any serious disciplinary action.

They were pulled from the front line after the newspaper broke the story and stood down from duty several months later, but they have not been formally charged.

The Courier-Mail yesterday asked the office of Police Commissioner Ian Stewart for comment on why the investigation into their conduct had dragged on so long, but only received a brief statement in response.

The statement says disciplinary allegations were "being considered by the Deputy Commissioner".

Mr Begic was enjoying a few drinks after work when he was arrested by a group of officers in the heart of the Surfers Paradise nightclub strip in January 2012.

He was charged with public nuisance and obstructing police, but the charges were eventually dropped.

Mr Begic has now engaged lawyers and plans to sue the Queensland Police Service.