Officers 'used reasonable force' in alleged police bashing

Alleged police bashing victim Corey Barker and his mother Angelique Sines leave the Sydney Downing Centre courts after giving evidence against six officers accused of assaulting him and lying in court.
Alleged police bashing victim Corey Barker and his mother Angelique Sines leave the Sydney Downing Centre courts after giving evidence against six officers accused of assaulting him and lying in court. Chris Calcino

OFFICERS who pinned alleged bashing victim Corey Barker to the ground, stood on his hand and dragged him face-down to a cell appeared to have used reasonable force.

That was the message Sergeant Matthew Johnson delivered in the trial of six police officers accused of assaulting Mr Barker in custody in 2011 and lying to the court.

The senior Richmond Local Area Command officer told Sydney Supreme Court he had been on the police force since 1992 and was tasked with training officers how to correctly subdue offenders and handle weapons.

CCTV footage of Mr Barker being restrained at the Ballina police station was played in slow-motion before the court, with Sgt Johnson asked if excessive force appeared to have been used.

Constable Ryan Charles Eckersley's defence barrister Kellie Stares asked him to assume, as had previously been alleged, Mr Barker had been yelling, banging on doors and had a history of swinging punches and spitting at police officers.

She asked him to also assume Mr Barker had yelled out, "If youse didn't have your badge and fought me fairly it wouldn't turn out this way."

The footage showed Const Eckersley pressing his foot down on Mr Barker's hand after he had been wrestled to the ground.

Sgt Johnson agreed offenders often tried to place their hands underneath their body to avoid being handcuffed, and while stepping on someone's hand was not the recommended action, it could nonetheless be effective.

"With the assumption that he's being violent, he has a violent history, he's made threats and it has gone on for some time, and he's made comments about lining the police officers up, you would be very wary about ensuring full control of the offender," he said.

Sgt Johnson said the footage appeared to show the officers ensuring they did not rest on Mr Barker with their full weight after he was subdued, in order to avoid positional asphyxia.

"They've moved to the side and they're not resting. They're still trying to gain full control and work in some sort of cohesion to put him under control," he told the court.

"It's a natural instinct after you've been through a violent arrest or confrontation to rest... and that means resting on the offender so they don't get back up.

"They've not done that at all."

Sgt Johnson said dragging Mr Barker face-down to his cell also appeared to be a show of reasonable force.

"Control has been lost, so they've then had to try physically manhandling him on the ground and controlling him that way.

"But it's not a position you can remain in.

"He didn't want to walk before, they're heading off to the cell, so they're just dragging him off to the cell.

"It would be expeditious, I would suggest."

Mr Barker previously told the court he had been pushed in the back and tripped, not turned around to attempt to punch Senior Constable David Ryan Hill in the face.

"Of his own volition, he's turned back to his left with his left arm free," Sgt Johnson said.

"I saw police trying to get a hold of his arm.

"From my perspective there, he's acting aggressively, he didn't want to comply."

Snr Const Hill, Const Luke Christopher Mewing, Const Ryan Eckersley and Probationary Constable Lee David Walmsley have been charged with assault, trying to pervert the course of justice and lying in court.

Snr Const Mark Woolven and Sgt Robert Campbell McCubben are charged with trying to pervert the course of justice.

The case continues.


Topics:  assault ballina police corey barker court police integrity commission

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