Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Victoria Police bashing costs taxpayers millions

A 17-year legal battle over a violent police assault came to a close yesterday, leaving taxpayers with a multi-million dollar damages and costs bill. The Court of Appeal shaved almost $1.5 million off an award of $3.5 million given last July to brothers Donald and Marcus Walker, and the estate of their dead mother, Marcia.

Marcus Walker, a renowned academic who was not involved in the 1993 assault, but suffered a serious nervous breakdown after seeing his injured mother and brother, yesterday lost his damages award of more than $918,000.

Donald Walker, an insurance salesman, who was the victim of the police assault, had $400,000 in aggravated and exemplary damages reduced from his original award of $1.78 million. The $200,000 awarded to the estate of Marcia Walker, who was 67 at the time of the incident, remained intact.

It was just after midnight on August 14, 1993 when police constables Graeme Carter and Mark Sesin went to Donald Walker's Surrey Hills apartment. They had responded to a telephone calls about a domestic dispute between Mr Walker and his girlfriend.

A physical altercation followed between the police, Donald Walker and the disabled Marcia, who lived next door. She suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Donald Walker received baton blows and, while handcuffed and lying on the floor, was kneed by one of the officers. Mr Walker, who suffered serious bruising and two broken ribs, later pleaded guilty to hindering Constable Graeme Carter in the execution of his duty. Several other charges against him were struck out. So too were charges against Marcia Walker.

Constable Carter has since been investigated by the police ethical standards department.

In a decision handed down yesterday, the Court of Appeal disagreed with trial judge Tim Smith's finding that parts of the police officers' evidence had been "deliberately false" or "dishonestly given".

"In the event, though, it does not affect his Honour's key finding of fact, we consider that the evidence of Carter and (Constable Mark) Sesin should not be stigmatised in that way," the court found.

The appeal judges also found that the police officers were entitled to enter Donald Walker's unit believing a breach of the peace was taking place.


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