Investigation into 'police bashing'
THE Police Integrity Commission has launched an investigation into the bashing of an indigenous man by officers at Ballina police station.
Senior Constables David Hill and Ryan Eckersley and Constable Lee Walmsley did not appear at Ballina Local Court yesterday to face Magistrate David Heilpern to answer why they should not be referred to the Supreme Court to face charges including perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
However, after receiving a letter yesterday morning advising of the PIC investigation, Mr Heilpern decided against referring the matter to the Supreme Court.
The PIC will investigate the conduct of officers Hill, Eckersley, and Walmsley on January 14, 2011, when they arrested and bashed 21-year-old Corey Barker.
CCTV footage of the alleged assault, shown to the media in court, showed police ram Mr Barker's head into a wall before he was forced to the floor, kicked and punched by some of the five police present.
Initially Mr Barker was facing eight charges including assault police and resist arrest after police alleged he punched Senior Constable Hill in the nose.
When CCTV footage from the police station surfaced after being requested by Mr Heilpern, all charges against Mr Barker were dropped.
Mr Heilpern noted there was no evidence of Senior Constable Hill being punched, as he claimed while under oath.
"I never saw the defendant punch the policeman in the nose," he said.
Media were denied access to the letter from the PIC but were told it stated: "The PIC has commenced an investigation into the suspected misconduct of the officers which arises from the judgement including assault, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, perjury, and tampering with evidence."
Mr Heilpern has previously made comment about the conduct of the police involved: "The court cannot stand by and allow the administration of justice to be debased by the in-court conduct of police officers giving palpably false evidence in such a contemptuous manner," he said last month.
Outside the court Mr Barker said he was extremely relieved.
"For a-year-and-a-half I kept getting told I was going to jail for three-and-a-half years until the video evidence turned up and the charges were dropped," he said.