Three Ballina police officers have escaped prosecution for perjury but only because there is a Police Integrity Commission (PIC) corruption investigation proceeding into their actions.
On making the announcement yesterday, magistrate David Heilpern also released to the media graphic CCTV footage clearly showing three officers bashing then-22-year-old Corey Barker in a cell at Ballina police station in January last year.
The officers subsequently sought to charge Barker, claiming he had attempted to attack them.
At the trial, one of them said that CCTV footage of the incident was damaged and couldn’t be played. But when the tape was restored it showed a very different set of events than was claimed in the officers’ evidence.
The horrifying tape appears to show senior constable David Hill punching Mr Barker in the face, senior constable Ryan Eckersley kicking him in the head while he was on the ground, and constable Lee Walmsley kneeing him in the side, also while on the ground.
The PIC will investigate allegations of assault, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, perjury and tampering with evidence against the three officers.
Magistrate Heilpern said in his judgment it was ‘crystal clear that the defendant at no time punched Senior Constable Hill in the nose as described’.
He said that Hill and Eckersley had colluded before giving evidence, described the damage to the CCTV footage as ‘suspicious’ and said the officers had ‘debased the administration of justice’.
‘It was as though there were two parallel universes in court: the imaginary one of Senior Constable Hill, and the real one that the rest of us – including the prosecutor – could see,’ the magistrate is reported as saying by smh.com.au.
Despite the apparently unprovoked attack and the serious nature of the investigation, Echonetdaily understands two of the three were still working on limited duties at Ballina up until last month, when the magistrate accused them of lying under oath.