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March 25, 2023

Case of former Byron police officer accused of teen assault back in court

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The NSW Supreme Court found that a local magistrate’s decision to dismiss assault charges for Michial Greenhalgh was an ‘error of law’. Photo supplied.

UPDATE: Magistrate Dakin has twice delayed today’s re-hearing of the youth assault case involving a former Byron police officer.
Lismore Local Court this morning heard the magistrate was still reviewing evidence and court would reconvene at 2pm.
Youth advocate and support person for the family of the former teenager, now a young man, Nicqui Yazdi told The Echo the ongoing delays were frustrating.
The young man, who cannot be named legally named here, was flanked by family and other supporters including Ms Yazdi, and appeared peaceful.
He said it was an emotional experience seeing the former police officer who beat him eighteen times with a baton, again in the court house but he otherwise felt calm and ready for whatever today’s outcome would be.
‘Things haven’t gone our way in the past so it’s not like we’re not used to it,’ the young man said.

The case of a former Byron Bay police officer found not guilty of assaulting a teenager five years ago in a CBD laneway is to be reheard in Lismore today.

Footage of the violent incident made national headlines in early 2018, leading to a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission investigation.

The viral video showed four officers deployed at the time at Byron Bay Police Station working to restrain a naked sixteen-year-old boy.

The state’s police watchdog later recommended the state consider charging one of the officers with common assault.

Michial Luke Greenhalgh was found to have hit the boy with his baton eighteen times of a total nineteen strikes delivered.

It was the final six blows that played a crucial role for Magistrate Michael Dakin in determining the former senior constable’s use of reasonable force.

Magistrate Dakin found the former senior constable not guilty after a prolonged trial in Lismore Local Court two years ago with pandemic restrictions still in place and public access curtailed.

But the NSW Supreme Court has since found an error of judgment in Magistrate Dakin’s verdict concerning the law around reasonable force and objectivity, leading to today’s rehearing.

It’s understood Magistrate Dakin, also a former police officer, has the option of recusing himself from the case and that the parties involved can also object.

Either scenario could lead to the case being trialled again.

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  1. Parents of teenagers need to be aware it could be their son an out of control “”courageous custodian of the peace ” beats up next

  2. Classic case of jail the magistrate for being complicit in the makeover arent these people ever accountable? Cops trying the cops…classic colonialism riddled with rum corps corruption.

  3. Hardly surprised by this police behaviour in Byron after having been almostvrun down by a speeding Bay policeman in an unmarked car and subsequently been violently threatened for verbally objecting to his reckless driving….amongst other unsavpury incidents from that crowd.

  4. “What error of judgment” did the Supreme Court find in Magistrate Dakin’s verdict for why the Byron Bay Police Officers were all found to be not guilty for what was seen on the video evidence of the beating ?

    • Thanks Neville: the DPP appealed to the NSW Supreme Court against Magistrate Dakin’s original decision, and the Supreme Court found that Dakin’s original judgment contained an ‘error of law’ (so it was an error in the legal reasoning contained in the judgment – more strictly speaking it was an error ‘in the judgment’, rather than an error ‘of’ judgment). As I understand it, Dakin in his judgment merely considered whether the police officer Greenhalgh considered his own actions necessary, whereas the correct legal test was that Dakin should have considered whether a ‘reasonable person’ would have considered Greenhalgh’s actions necessary. We’ve updated the story now to make that issue clearer.


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