July 5: A group of NSW police officers were exposed as liars by CCTV footage which showed they assaulted a 23-year-old Aboriginal man, not the other way round, a magistrate has found.
Ballina Local Court Magistrate David Heilpern today referred the incident to the Police Integrity Commission, after finding that three officers had lied under oath and had “debased” the “administration of justice”.
In a costs judgment handed down today, Magistrate Heilpern found that on January 14 last year Corey Barker was arrested after an altercation on a street in Ballina, after it was alleged he threw a plastic bottle towards police and then resisted arrest.
When taken to the police station, officers say he yelled and was disruptive in the dock which led them to move him to the rear cells.
The officers claimed that, when they attempted to move the young man, he allegedly assaulted a senior constable, punching him in the face and throwing his arms around in a bid to break free.
The officer who claimed he had been assaulted said video tapes of the incident were damaged and could not be used.
However, when the damaged tapes were obtained by the prosecutor and repaired during Mr Barker’s assault hearing, they showed that there was, in fact, no assault.
“…it was crystal clear that the defendant at no time punched Senior Constable Hill in the nose as described,” Magistrate David Heilpern said.
Magistrate Heilpern found that Senior Constable Hill and another officer had colluded before giving evidence and that the latter had then lied under oath in an effort to cover it up.
Even when shown the DVD the officer “refused to accept that what was depicted was what had occurred”.
The footage also showed another police officer kicking Mr Barker while he was on the ground, and he and two officers then dragging him into a cell where he was left handcuffed for more than an hour.
The officers also denied this under cross examination.
“Make no mistake, this is not an example of a simple internal inconsistency in an officer’s evidence regarding speaking to another witness. I am satisfied that on balance that the officer has lied on oath about this issue in an effort to mislead the court…
“We have four police officers giving evidence thet the defendant would not put his hands behind him in the dock, then he punched Senior Constable Hill in the nose … and that he was given the opportunity to get up before being dragged away …
“Not one of those things occurred.”
The assault case was thrown out in February, and today the police were ordered to pay Mr Barker’s legal costs.
The magistrate referred the judgment to the police integrity commission and said he was considering referring three of the officers to be tried for contempt in the NSW Surpeme Court.