Our client was a security guard. On New Years Eve, he was on the way to work in the early hours of the morning at Star Casino and was walking through Darling Harbour. At that time, police officers and police officers on horseback from mounted police were stretched out in a line and purporting to close Darling Harbour. They stopped the security guard and told him that Darling Harbour was being closed and to go some other way. He tried to persuade them to let him through, however they suddenly turned on him, grabbing him by the neck and shoulder and throwing him to the ground in such a manner that he was unable to protect himself. He was handcuffed, arrested and taken to the police station where he was charged with assault police and resist arrest and failing to leave the Sydney foreshore area when directed to do so.
A conviction for these offences would have spelt the end of his ability to have a security licence.
To compound his problems, he went to another law firm. The solicitors that he engaged immediately briefed a criminal barrister – which for these types of charges is sometimes a good indication that the solicitors have no idea what they are doing.
It is a different thing altogether to competently do the work and if a barrister is required or wanted by the client, then to brief a barrister. The client was advised to plead guilty. He did not want to do so and the matter was set down for hearing.
On the day of the hearing, the barrister went into court and pleaded the client guilty. Needless to say that when the client found out, he sacked the solicitors and the barrister. He then sought a second opinion from an accredited specialist in criminal law at the firm of Nyman Gibson Miralis.
Attempts were then made to withdraw the guilty plea without success, so we took the matter on as a conviction appeal to the Sydney District Court. We obtained CCTV footage of the incident and a copy of the brief of evidence. Within the brief were a number of police statements. The first officer to prepare his statement indicated that the accused had shoulder barged, pushed into and assaulted the officers. The CCTV footage established that these claims by police were lies. The statement was seemingly copied by other officers. We went to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) solicitor with carriage of the matter and played the CCTV footage. The solicitor agreed that the police statements contained false and misleading statements.
When we turned up for the conviction appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions had authorised for the appeal to be conceded. The Judge overturned the convictions.
We then commenced proceedings against the NSW Police for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. Unbelievably, the proceedings were hard fought by those representing the NSW Police Service to the point that a number of officers gave evidence and looked like idiots after cross examination. During the hearing, the NSW Police Service settled the claim and paid our legal costs.
This entire matter was a clear abuse of process by police. The fact that police officers gave evidence and created statements leading to a false arrest, and malicious prosecution of our client is a disgrace. Justice prevailed in the end.