24.3 C
Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Officers face hearing over child left in police van

Latest News

My dear friend, Philip Rubinstein 1934–2021

I first met Phil on a rain-soaked day outside my house in Brunswick Terrace, Mullum. It was an accidental encounter, but we soon got stuck into a conversation about the parlous state of Australian universities.

Other News

Mt Warning ban

Chris Gee, Byron Bay Indigenous readers be advised that the following letter contains references to persons deceased. I read with some...

Taxpayers paying through the nose for the destruction of Casino to Murwillumbah train line

Louise Doran, Ocean Shores  On 14 January, 2015 The Echo comment ‘Railroaded’ quoted Don Page’s (Nationals then MP for Ballina) 2004...

Hospital staff want to park for free while they work

It seems that Lismore Base isn’t the only hospital whose workers would like to park their cars for free while they work.

Rapey Liberal culture is their undoing

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’ steel-eyed testimony around rape allegations saw spiders crawl from under rocks and spread in all directions last week. 

Ministers misbehave

Keith Duncan, Pimlico Accusations of appalling behaviour by the Liberal Party in covering up misdeeds within its ranks just keep...

Suffolk Park pump track for Cavanbah

Kathy Gleeson, Suffolk Park When I first heard of, and supported, the pump track at the Linda Vidler Park in Suffolk...

Senior Constable Michael Writer.
Senior Constable Michael Writer.

The mother of an eight-year-old boy Aboriginal boy who was locked in the back of a police paddy wagon at Coraki for more than an hour last April claims it was the first time he had been ‘picked up’ by police.

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.

But hearing before Magistrate Jeff Linden at Lismore Local Court yesterday heard police told the boy’s mother that day, April 13, he had also previously been caught throwing a rock through a window at Coraki hospital.

‘He has always been a quiet boy…he’s a shy boy,’ his mother, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, said.

When Coraki Sergeant Dean Childs got a message about rocks being thrown at a council car at the sewage treatment works ‘about’ 1.10pm, both senior constables attended.

They picked up and dropped home several boys, and despite being told the eight-year-old was staying with his aunt while his mother was at work,the officers drove back to the police station about’ 2pm.

Both Senior Constables then went to Evans Head, in a different police vehicle to help another officer at a job, forgetting they had left the eight-year-old boy in the paddy wagon.

Senior Constable Brian Quinn.
Senior Constable Brian Quinn.

That was until sergeant Childs phoned Snr Cnst Writer when the boy’s mother went to the police station after she was phoned by his aunt.

‘She told me he’d been put in the bull wagon,’ the boy’s mother said.

‘F**k sarge, check the back of the truck,’ Snr Cnst Writer said to Sgt Childs, while the boys mother waited anxiously at the police station.

When the boys mother saw him climb out of the back of the paddy wagon she was emotional and angry.

‘I cried, I was screaming,’ she said.

‘I was yelling this is not right, why did you do this to my child.’

Sergeant Childs said when he opened the police vehicle for the boy to get out, a fan in the rear caged section was on, but in his taped police interview played as evidence, the boy said it was off.

Both Sgt Childs and the boy’s mother said he was red in the face when he got out of the paddy wagon.

In his taped interview, which was played because he declined to give evidence via videolink from a remote room, the boy said he was hot and tired while in the police vehicle.

‘There’s a little hole down the bottom,’ he said.

‘I breathed through it.’

When asked why, the boy replied ‘I couldn’t breathe…I breathed through the little hole.’

After consoling her son, when police asked the boy’s mother if she wanted an ambulance she said ‘we can get our own f**king ambulance.’

Sergeant Childs said the boy’s mother was ‘quite upset and hysterical’ and he told her the incident would be reported to a duty officer.

Duirng this time the boys mother also tried to call Legal Aid.

‘I tried to call but I was too upset,’ she said.

Concerned for the boy’s welfare, Sergeant Childs said Snr Cnst Writer phoned about 10 minutes after he got out of the paddy wagon and he told him the boy was ok.

‘I know we f**ked up and we will be in trouble but as long as he is ok that’s all that matters,’ Sgt Childs said Snr Cnst Writer said.

Duty Officer Inspector Doug Conners went to Coraki police station that afternoon and said the officers were very concerned for the boy’s welfare and not the consequences of their actions.

‘Senior Constable Writer particularly sounded very distressed on the phone,’ he said.

Police vehicles could be used to detain people for periods of more than an hour, Insp Conners said, which was common with children who were arrested and detained in the Richmond Local Area Command.

Both Insp Conners and Magistrate Jeff Linden agreed any child arrested and detained from the region would spend more than hour in the back of a police vehicle when being transported to Grafton’s Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre.

Under re-examination by Crown Prosecutor Karl Prince, the boy’s mother admitted saying to Insp Conners and Sgt Childs that she wanted Snr Cnst Writer punished.

She also gave evidence she had been caught drink driving by Snr Cnst Writer before, and she didn’t like him.

You hear about people being fined for leaving kids in cars, the boy’s mother said.

‘As soon as I saw him (her son), I knew it wasn’t right what they had done,’ she said.

‘I think it’s very cruel to do that to children.’

The hearing continues today.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. There is no excuse for forgetting that there was a child locked in the back of the police paddy wagon.
    These officers should be charged with negligence, dereliction of duty & child endangerment at the very least.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Ben Hamilton riding for kids with cancer

Ballina man Ben Hamilton is riding his bike 500km to help young kids with cancer.

Brunswick Heads marina berths to increase

Questions remain unanswered around a press release from Nationals MLC Ben Franklin’s office regarding a $2.8 million upgrade to the Brunswick Heads boat harbour. According...

Helping Our Kids, help our kids

The Lismore Samson Fitness Challenge kicks off tonight in Lismore with the express aim of raising much-needed funds for the Our Kids charity.

Nimbin medicinal cannabis event, March 27

Two experienced medical cannabis doctors and a retired magistrate who is passionate about changing the drug driving rules will take part in the MEDICAN gathering in Nimbin.