The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) yesterday recommended charges be laid against six Ballina police officers over the assault of Aboriginal man Corey Barker at Ballina Police Station in January 2011.
The PIC recommended charges including assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and fabricating evidence against Senior Constable David Hill, Constable Lee Walmsley, Constable Ryan Eckersley, Constable Luke Mewing, Senior Constable Mark Woolven and Robert McCubben.
It recommended no charges be laid against the original arresting officers, Senior Constable Gregory Ryan and Senior Constable Kelly Haines.
The commission found the degree of forced used against Barker was excessive.
It concluded Barker was dragged to a cell in the police station by police officers holding the handcuffs on Barker’s hands, head first, on his stomach, ‘with his arms forced high above his head against the natural inclination of his arms’.
‘This method of taking Barker to a cell involved excessive force,’ the report said.
The PIC concluded that Barker did not attempt to break free from Walmsley as was maintained by the officers in hearings at Ballina Local Court.
It also said that Barker did not assault Hill as was repeatedly alleged and, in particular, did not punch or even attempt to punch Hill on the nose or face, as was claimed by all six of the charged officers in their testimony.
The commission concluded Hill had lied in his evidence at the PIC public hearing in claiming that he was hit by Barker.
It also said Mewing had disclosed the contents of a closed session of the PIC against instructions.
It continued that Eckersley, Woolven, McCubben, Walmsley and Mewing lifted their evidence regarding Barker’s alleged assault from Hill’s statement, evidence which they knew at the time to be untrue.
It said McCubben, who was the custody manager on the night, did not open a custody record for Barker until more than an hour after his arrival at Ballina Police Station, did not correctly record the names of the arresting officers or the original grounds for Barker’s detention, and failed to make any inspection of the handcuffed man in his cell.
It found Walmsley, Mewing, Eckersley, Woolven and McCubben did not make any notes of their own and had used Hill’s statement without reference and adopted his assertions about matters of which they had no recollection.
The Commission found that Hill, Walmsley, Mewing and Eckersley were guilty of police misconduct and should be prosecuted for assault. It also recommended they be charged with fabricating false evidence, perverting the course of justice and perjury.
In Mewing’s case, it said, consideration should also be given to charges over disclosing the contents of his evidence to a PIC private session.
Woolven and McCubben should be charged with fabricating false evidence and perverting the course of justice, it found, adding possible additional charges for McCubben over failing to keep proper records.
Mr Barker’s mother, Angelique, said this morning she hoped the officers realised what they had done.
‘I hope they are able to acknowledge they’ve done the wrong thing and we get justice, finally,’ she told ABC radio.