A police officer accused of assaulting a 16-year-old in Byron Bay nearly two years ago has lost his bid for anonymity in the case.
Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 38, is alleged to have assaulted the boy as part of an arrest in Lateen Lane some time between two and three o’clock in the morning on January 11, 2018.
Operation Tambora, led by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC), examined the actions of all four policemen involved in the arrest and ended with a recommendation for the Department of Public Prosecutions to consider charging one of the officers with assault.
Until this week, the policeman was entitled to anonymity in media, but on Monday afternoon Magistrate Karen Stafford refused a request by his legal defence for suppression of his name throughout the local court case.
Thirty-eight-year-old Sen-Constable Greenhalgh is now based in Lismore, after a transfer from Byron Bay police station, and didn’t appear in court on Monday.
But his wife still works as a senior constable at Byron Bay police station, and bears the same last name as her accused husband.
The court heard she had endured abusive comments and phone calls since the LECC inquiry into the Lateen Lane arrest.
Her husband’s defence said she wore a name badge at work and answered the phone with her last name without reference to her gender.
One person had asked if the officer was ‘still bashing fourteen-year-olds’.
The police defence argued the woman shouldn’t be ‘banished’ from her usual workplace and Byron Bay via a transfer for protection, and a suppression order was necessary to avoid a case of ‘mistaken identity’.
Solicitor Sally McPherson said Byron Bay Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe had reported an ‘escalation of intimidation’ towards the woman, whose first name Echonetdaily has decided not to publish.
The senior constable, by name of Greenhalgh, and still working from Byron Bay station wasn’t present at the Lateen Lane arrest and has no known criminal charges or misconduct allegations against her.
But Magistrate Stafford referred to a previous Court of Criminal Appeal case and said she wasn’t satisfied, given the verbal attacks had happened even before publication of the accused’s name that a suppression order would change the situation.
‘Is the situation because she’s in Byron Bay rather than married to him?’ she asked in the lead-up to her decision, ‘are there no other ways we can ensure safety?’
The magistrate acknowledged Inspector Kehoe was prepared to carry out a workplace safety risk assessment for the woman under his supervision, but noted it would likely take weeks.
‘The issue isn’t whether police should have to put up with that behaviour in the workplace,’ Magistrate Stafford told the court.
She ordered the matter to appear before the court again on February 3.
After court, Byron Bay youth advocate and Schoolies Hub coordinator Niqui Yazdi, who was present in the courtroom, told Bay FM’s Community Newsroom that more police training is needed when dealing with young people.
She also said she wanted to see a more consistent police presence at Schoolies.