Paramedics who assessed an eight-year-old boy after being locked in the back of a police paddy wagon at Coraki for more than an hour last April said his vital signs were within normal levels but his mother was hysterical.
Following an internal police investigation, senior constables Michael Writer and Brian Quinn were both charged with police officer neglect to carry out any lawful order and leaving a child in a motor vehicle causing emotional distress.
Desmond Whitney told day two of a hearing before Magistrate Jeff Linden at Lismore Local Court on Friday, when he and fellow paramedic Sally Butler got to Coraki police station on April 13, they found the boy sitting in an air conditioned car.
After taking the boy’s blood pressure, temperature and blood sugar levels, Mr Whitney said he concluded the boy wasn’t even suffering from mild dehydration.
‘There was nothing significant outside our flags…there was nothing of major concern,’ he said.
When Sergeant Childs was told by the boy’s mother he wasn’t at his aunt’s house at Box Ridge, he phoned Senior Constable Writer, who said ‘fuck Sarge, check the back of the truck.’
While Mr Whitney and Ms Butler formed the opinion the boy’s mother was emotionally distressed and distraught, when she saw her son, her co-worker who went to the police station with her described her as hysterical.
‘She came running past me because she was emotional,’ the co-worker said.
‘He (the boy) was sweating, his lips were trembling.’
‘He was crying…his clothes were sticking to his body.’
‘I told him (Sgt Childs) it was unfucking acceptable.’
Angry and frustrated, the first thing the co-worker did after the boy was released from the paddy wagon was to demand action from Sgt Childs.
The boy’s aunt had told his mother on the phone her son had been put in the ‘bull wagon’, despite her telling Snr Cnst Writer his mother was at work and she was looking after him.
She said Snr Cnst Writer warned the boys.
‘He told my boys not to go to town or he’d boot them up the arse,’ the boy’s aunt said.
The boy’s aunt gave evidence she thought he had been dropped off at another cottage at Box Ridge.
‘Just stupidity,’ was how one of the other boys, who got eggs to throw at the council car from his house at Box Ridge, described their actions.
The two fans designed to ventilate the ‘prisoner pod’ on the paddy wagon were inspected and found to be working properly by Leading Senior Constable Kennedy, who said the fans were designed to operate independently of the ignition.
When Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsay was handed the internal investigation in April 2016, he said he asked both senior constables if they would participate in an interview and they declined.
He said the interview was different from a usual internal investigation ‘because there were criminal allegations before them.’
Both senior constables Writer and Quinn were described as ‘good officers’ by Det Chf Insp Lindsay, who had never faced criminal charges.
Tasked to assist Det Chf Insp Lindsay with the internal investigation, Detective Sergeant Bernadette Ingram said she prepared the brief of evidence on his behalf.
Weather observations, including a temperature range of 24.5 to 24.8 degrees between 1.30pm and 3pm, and a log of phone calls to and from the station, formed part of the brief.
On July 22, Det Sgt Ingram was present when Ld Snr Cnst Kennedy examined the police vehicle and she said two fans worked properly in the back of the paddy wagon.
She also produced still photos from the CCTV footage at the sewage treatment works and went to Coraki to record several distances by car around the town.
On several occasions, Det Sgt Ingram said senior constables Writer and Quinn asked how the boy was.
Magistrate Jeff Linden ordered the Crown to serve written submissions August 7 and the defence by September 7.
He adjourned the matters until September 13, for any ancillary submissions to be lodged, and marked the court papers requesting a transcript ‘urgent please.’
‘September 13 is a clear date and it’s got priority,’ Mr Linden said.
Crown prosecutor Brett Eurell asked Mr Linden how likely was it that he would reach a decision on the next occasion.
‘Very very likely.’