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February 25, 2021

Ballina police ‘taunted’ alleged victim

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 Staff reporters

A young Aboriginal man who was allegedly bashed and falsely accused of assault by officers at Ballina Police Station told the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) yesterday that when his mother came to visit him officers made lewd gestures towards her, trying to aggravate him.

The PIC is looking at allegations that officers at Ballina bashed Corey Barker in custody and later accused him of attacking them after he intervened in an altercation between police and two of his friends in January 2011.

Mr Barker told the inquiry yesterday that the last thing he remembered of the incident was being dragged from his cell and taken to the rear of the police station where there were no CCTV cameras.

He alleges police then punched and kicked him in the head and body until he was unconscious.

The case was referred to the PIC after CCTV footage from inside Ballina police station contradicted testimony from officers, and a magistrate found they had lied about the incident.

In their defence, the police officers turned to evidence that would not be allowed in a court of law in an apparent effort to tarnish the reputation of the alleged victim.

Information about Mr Barker’s previous convictions would not be allowed to be heard in a criminal trial prior to sentencing but was placed on the record at the commission hearing yesterday.

Mr Barker said when his mother visited him at the police station one officer made a lewd gesture while standing behind her.

‘I saw an officer behind doing a gesture, pretending to squeeze her arse,’ he told the inquiry.

‘They were just trying to aggravate me.’

Four officers then attempted to move him from the cage to another room, intending to take him to a cell down the hall.

‘They had shoved me through the door… to provoke me,’ he said.

Police falsely claimed he had punched Senior Constable David Hill on the nose in that incident.

Senior constables Hill and Ryan Eckersley and constables Luke Mewing and Lee Walmsley gave court evidence about the punch.

The CCTV footage showed the officers wrestling Mr Barker to the ground, kicking him in the head and kneeing him in his side.

The officers handcuffed him and dragged him along the floor down to the cells with his arms in a vertical position.

‘It had to be the top of the cake for pain in that incident,’ Mr Barker said.

He suffered injuries to his face, neck, arms and hips.

The inquiry continues.

– with AAP


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