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NSW cop admits punch was never thrown

NSW Police Integrity Commission Inquiry
DAY FOUR

Brooke Boney NITV News 21 February 2013

A police officer has admitted a young Aboriginal man accused of assaulting police never threw a punch, reversing his earlier claim.

Constable Luke Mewing took the witness stand on Thursday at the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), which is looking into the alleged assault of Corey Barker, 24, by five officers and accusations that he assaulted one of them.

Mr Barker was charged with punching Senior Constable David Hill while in custody at Ballina police station, on the NSW north coast, in January 2011.

"That evidence was just wrong, wasn't it?" counsel assisting the PIC hearing Stephen Rushton, SC, said. "I guess so," Const Mewing said. "You knew that it was wrong when you gave it," Mr Rushton said.

"I believed it at the time that I saw (the incident)." Const Mewing made a written statement and gave evidence in Ballina Local Court saying Mr Barker had punched his colleague.

Mr Barker was charged with assaulting police and other charges relating to his attempt to intervene in a violent street confrontation between two of his friends and police.

After his arrest, the officers claimed he punched Sen Const Hill while they were walking him from a holding cage to a cell at the rear of the station.

The PIC has been told CCTV footage does not bear out that version of events, but it does show the officers slamming Mr Barker into a wall and wrestling him to the ground where he was kicked and kneed.

Const Mewing was not shown the CCTV footage, which was previously thought to be damaged, before he made his written statement or gave evidence in the local court. "Do you now accept that, in fact, the CCTV shows Mr Barker did not assault Sen Const Hill?" Mr Rushton asked.

"Yes, I do now," he replied. Const Mewing said he delivered a "knee strike" to Mr Barker while the five officers had him pinned to the ground.

"It's a move, a weapons-control strike, for pain compliance," he told the PIC. When asked, he acknowledged that Mr Barker was unarmed and the tactic may not have been necessary.

The footage also shows Mr Barker was handcuffed and dragged along the floor by his arms which were rotated above his head. He has told the PIC being dragged in that position caused him the most pain he had ever experienced.

Statements from the officers said Mr Barker was dragged because he would not comply with a command to stand up.

Giving evidence previously, Const Mewing has admitted the prisoner would not have been able to stand up. "How does one get up from a flat surface with two or three police on top of you with handcuffs on?" he was asked last year. "You probably can't get up," Const Mewing replied.

Const Mewing also changed his previous evidence about how he had recalled what happened. He told Ballina Local Court he had relied on his memory and the official police account of events.

The PIC heard on Wednesday that he had no entry in his police notebook of the street confrontation or the police station incident. But on Thursday, he admitted he had received statements from Sen Const Hill and Const Lee Walmsley. He said it was standard practice in the Richmond local area command for officers to do so in preparing their evidence, and Sen Const Hill's statement had been emailed to him.

The PIC heard the officers' written statements were nearly identical in referring to offensive language Mr Barker had allegedly used before the officers transferred him from the holding cage.

Const Mewing said his field training officer had taught him to share statements among officers who were present at the same incidents. "He told you that was the appropriate way to go?" Mr Rushton asked.

"I believe so," he responded.

NSW Police Integrity Commission Inquiry
DAY THREE

Ballina cop 'vowed to smash phone', PIC hears

Brooke Boney NITV News 20 February 2013

The third day of the inquiry into the alleged bashing of an Indigenous man on the New South Wales north coast continued, with Corey Barker being questioned.

The third day of the inquiry into the alleged bashing of an Indigenous man on the New South Wales north coast continued, with Corey Barker being questioned.

The lawyers representing the policemen involved in the altercation cross-examined Mr Barker for most of the day.

Brett Eurell, the lawyer for Constable Mewings, questioned Corey Barker about his previous drug use and temper.

Footage was shown to display what Mr Barker is capable of when he gets angry.

Today Corey Barker described the events that took place in the video, saying another young man was trying to steal his girlfriend.

This event, a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer and Mr Barker's use of testosterone in 2010 formed the basis for most of the questions.

Corey Barker was asked whether he thought he started the fight between him and the police in the back room.

Mr Eurell claimed when Mr Corey turned his shoulder, he intended to set upon one of the officers, and that caused the sequence of events that followed.

Constable Mewings' lawyer asked Corey Barker "Do you agree that you started this altercation by turning on Senior Constable Hill?". "No. Not at all," Corey replied.

Brett Eurell also said that at the time of the incident Corey Barker was a violent, drunken and abusive man.

The phone that Corey Barker tried to use to film an alleged police assault on a young woman was also raised.

Corey Barker said he thought the police wanted the mobile because they presumed it contained a video of the incident.

While he was in the lock-up, an officer walked over to him with what appears to be a mobile phone in his hand, he said. "The officer said 'Tell me the f****ing code or I'll f****ing smash it'," he added.

Tomorrow the police officers involved are expected to give evidence.

NSW Police Integrity Commission Inquiry
DAY TWO

Man allegedly bashed by NSW police testifies at inquiry

Brooke Boney NITV News 19 February 2013

The New South Wales inquiry into the alleged bashing of a young Indigenous man continued today in the Police Integrity Commission.

Corey Barker from Ballina on the state's north coast took the stand to describe his version of events in January 2011.

CCTV footage from inside Ballina Police Station shows a man on the ground -- Corey Barker. Today he told the inquiry the pain he felt then was the worst in his whole time in custody.

The pictures show him being dragged by his arms down to a cell at the back of the station.

"I knew why they were taking me down to the cells, no one is that dumb. I knew why they were handcuffing me," he told the inquiry.

He said this is what happened after he saw a policeman assaulting a young woman, allegedly picking her by her shoulder and hip and dropping shoulder first onto the ground.

"The scream from Emma was horrible. It needed to be stopped there and friggin then. In my mind I was trying to help someone. I was treated like garbage, where's the fairness in that?," Mr Barker told the inquiry. .

After he was arrested, Mr Barker says he became upset because he couldn't understand why he was being locked up.

The CCTV footage also appeared to show one of the officers asking him for a passcode for his phone while he was in the cell. He told the inquiry the police thought he filmed the alleged assault on his female friend.

During questioning, Mr Barker said it was difficult to remember exactly what happened during the alleged assault because it was so traumatising. But he said he could identify three out of the four officers involved.

Today is only the second day of the inquiry and it's expected to continue for the next two weeks.

Corey Barker's mother and the police involved in the altercation are yet to give evidence.

NSW Police Integrity Commission Inquiry
DAY ONE

NSW police accused of bashing 'cover-up'

18 February 2013 SBS (AAP)

An inquiry into the alleged bashing of a young Indigenous man at the hands of the police on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales started today.

Police bashed a young Aboriginal man in custody and lied about their actions after a violent confrontation with him and his friends, an inquiry has heard.

A Police Integrity Commission (PIC) public hearing heard that Corey Barker was arrested in Ballina in northern NSW in 2011 after trying to intervene in an altercation between two of his friends and the police.

Mr Barker, 24, was initially charged with numerous offences, including punching a police officer before charges were eventually dropped.

His arrest was referred to the PIC after CCTV footage from inside Ballina police station conflicted with testimony from officers, who were later found to have lied about the incident.

On Monday, the PIC heard from Emma Crook, who was with her boyfriend outside the shopping village when two officers in a police car approached them.

The inquiry heard on Monday that Mr Barker and four friends were walking to a Ballina pub at around 10.30pm on January 14, 2011, when they heard screaming nearby as two uniformed officers were dealing with a loud argument between couple Emma Crook and Jay Healey.

Even though Ms Crook twice told them she was alright and asked them to go away, the officers kept following, prompting Mr Healey to tell them to "f*** off". Police jumped on him, Ms Crook told the inquiry, pushing Mr Healey to the ground.

As she tried to push Constable Lee Walmsley off Mr Healey, acting sergeant Kelly Haines picked her up and threw her face into a gutter and sprayed her with capsicum spray, Ms Crook said.

Mr Barker and his friend Byron Nolan, also Aboriginal, ran toward the scene but were tackled by two plain-clothed police officers about 10 metres from the incident, Ms Crook said.

The inquiry heard the men were friends of Mr Healey.

Another witness from the group said she watched a male police officer grab Ms Crook by the hair and smash her face onto the street.

The inquiry also heard Ms Crook was being violent and abusive during her arrest and everyone except another woman was intoxicated.

Mr Nolan said he and Mr Barker were face down, each with an officer grinding their faces into the pavement.

"He put his foot on my head and was sort of rolling his foot," he said.

Mr Nolan, who has a darker complexion than Mr Barker, heard an officer say "Let the black one go, let the black one go".

Mr Barker, Ms Crook and Mr Healey were transferred to Ballina police station and charged with various offences. Mr Barker was additionally charged with assaulting police.

During his prosecution in 2011 and 2012, Senior Constables David Hill, Ryan Eckersley, Luke Mewing and Constable Lee Walmsley said the accused assaulted Snr Const Hill at the police station.

They alleged he punched the officer in the face while being transferred from a holding cage to a cell.

CCTV footage, which was originally damaged but was later repaired, conflicted with the officers' evidence, Magistrate David Heilpern concluded during court proceedings last year.

The alleged punch never happened but the officers forced Mr Barker to the ground before one kicked him in the head and another kneed him in the side of his torso, Magistrate Heilpern concluded.

Mr Heilpern said the officers lied and at least two of them knowingly colluded about their evidence.

The charges against Mr Barker were either dropped or dismissed.

The inquiry continues on Tuesday.