Court hears teen assault hearing may run out of time
THE hearing into a Northern NSW police officer's alleged assault of a teenager in Byron Bay was not likely to be finalised this week, a court has heard.
Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 39, has pleaded not guilty to common assault over circumstances surrounding the January 11, 2018 detention of a drug affected 16-year-old boy in Lateen Lane.
The DPP has alleged six of 18 baton strikes allegedly inflicted by the accused amount to an unreasonable use of force.
The defence has disputed this.
When the matter returned to Lismore Local Court this morning for what was scheduled to be the final day of a four-day hearing, Magistrate Michael Dakin said the matter appeared unlikely to be finalised within the allocated time.
If it cannot finish today, Mr Dakin said three further days would be allocated in February, 2021.
While issues to be disputed were narrowed in legal arguments before the hearing began, at least two more witnesses were still expected to be called.
The court has heard evidence from Senior Constable Matthew Roach, who was working alongside the accused at the time of the alleged incident, and fellow attendee Sen-Constable Mark Sims.
Evidence has also been heard from the night manager of a nearby hostel, other members of the public, the alleged victim and his mother.
Shane Marion, who was staying in an apartment with a balcony overlooking Lateen Lane, yesterday told the court he woke to "screams coming from the laneway".
Several witnesses have described the teen yelling for help and water and calling to God.
Mr Marion couldn't recall seeing the teen try to attack police, although he left the balcony and returned inside the apartment on several occasions.
Mr Marion told the court he believed he saw a police officer strike the teen "in the upper body".
He said while being struck with the baton the boy was struggling and moving around "the entire time".
Justin Millar, the night manager of Nomads Byron Bay Backpackers at the time of the incident, tried to talk to the teen and move him on after guests of the hostel alerted him to the boy's behaviour.
He made a call to a security company but this went unanswered and he later phoned police.
Mr Millar, appearing via video link from his home country of Canada, told the court he never saw the teen act aggressively toward police, or display violence to any other person.
Mr Millar said the boy was "not in a right state of mind".
Several witnesses have told the court the teen was unarmed.
Mr Millar told the court police yelled: "get on the ground, C - t" several times after the teen was pepper sprayed and Tasered and continued walking around.
When asked by the prosecution if he saw the teen "do anything towards the police" before he was hit repeatedly with a baton, Mr Millar replied: "No".
The court has heard, on several witness accounts, police said something to the effect of "buddy, sit down, we'll help you, what do you want" when they first arrived.
The alleged victim told the court on Monday he had met with a group of older boys in Apex Park and accepted a beer offered from them, before he began to feel strange and hallucinate.
The court has heard evidence the teen, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, did not respond to verbal inquiries from police when they arrived.
Sen-Constable Roach said the teen took a "haymaker" style swing at him before he deployed his OC spray twice, with little effect.
Sen-Constable Greenhalgh then used his Taser and Sen-Constable Roach agreed, during cross-examination, this was reasonable in the circumstances.
He described a struggle that followed and difficulty handcuffing the boy, who was sweating profusely.
The hearing was ongoing.