Assault charge dropped in police bashing case
THEIR accounts were irreconcilable with the racist, violent officers alleged police bashing victim Corey Barker depicted in his testimony.
Crown Prosecutor Craig Patrick's evidence has ended in the trial of six Ballina police officers accused of bashing Mr Barker in custody in 2011 and lying about it in court, opening the floor for defence barristers to call their own witnesses.
But Sydney District Court Judge Leonie Flannery first ordered the jury to deliver a not guilty verdict on Probationary Constable Lee Walmsley's assault charge.
"I have concluded that the evidence cannot establish an essential element of that offence," she remarked.
"You must return a verdict of not guilty."
Then the character references began.
First off the ranks was Superintendent Gregory Martin, commander of the Richmond Local Area Command stationed at Lismore; a police veteran of some 32 years with more than 200 officers working beneath him.
Senior Constable David Ryan Hill's barrister Emmanuel Kerkyasharian elicited a chuckle from the high-ranking lawman when he asked: "How many David Hills do you wish you had?"
"More than one. He's an exceptional front-line officer," Supt Martin replied.
Statements the officers made after the Ballina police station confrontation stated Mr Barker had punched Snr Const Hill in the face, forcing them to physically restrain him; an allegation Mr Barker strongly rejected.
In his testimony, Mr Barker accused officers of making racist remarks, rudely gesturing behind his mother's back and pushing him to the ground before assaulting him and dragging him face-down to his cell.
The Police Integrity Commission found there was enough evidence to pursue charges against the officers for allegedly preparing false statements and lying under oath.
Those allegations did not seem to match the glowing endorsements some of their friends and peers made before the court.
Supt Martin told the court Snr Const Hill had earned 18 citations for good work in his time on the force, not including one still "on hold because of this matter" for his contribution to the arrest and capture of Malcolm Naden.
"I've never, never heard anyone say anything untoward about the honesty and integrity of David Hill," Supt Martin told the court.
He said he had known Const Walmsley since the young officer was about 18 years old, because he was the childhood sweetheart of his neighbour's daughter in Lismore.
"It's a dead-end road and you have to drive past their home to get to town and home again," Supt Martin said.
"It's a rural area and everyone knows each other up there."
He said Const Walmsley was a "very quiet, reserved young man, respectful" and did not believe he would intentionally prepare a false statement or lie to a court.
Veterinarian Dr Laith John Mearns echoed the sentiment, saying his friend since high school was an honest person he always looked up to.
Ecologist and business manager Karl Robertson from Banora Point, said Const Walmsley was "my best friend by far, I'd trust him with just about any problem I have in my life".
Supt Martin told the court he had granted Const Ryan Charles Eckersley the Wardell lock-up keeper position - a highly sought-after job not only because it allowed an officer and his family to live with subsidised rent in a home attached to the station, but because of Wardell's proximity to the beach.
"As far as I'm concerned, I've never ever heard anyone say anything untoward about his integrity or honesty," Supt Martin said.
Snr Const Hill, Const Christopher Luke Mewing and Const Eckersley have been charged with assault, trying to pervert the course of justice and lying in court.
Const Walmsley, Snr Const Mark Woolven and Sgt Robert Campbell McCubben are charged with trying to pervert the course of justice.
The trial continues.