Police bash victim considers compensation claim
Mohamed Hassan faced a charge of disturbing the good order of a jail after spilling blood on the floor of his cell. Photo: David Mariuz
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Police will reopen a professional standards investigation after a
court found a senior constable from Stawell had assaulted a young Somali
man - punching him in the face and fracturing his jaw.
A magistrate found that Mohamed Hassan, then 20, was the
victim of an unlawful assault by a police officer when he was punched,
forced to the ground and handcuffed after the car he was in was pulled
over for speeding.
Initially it was Mr Hassan who faced seven charges, including
disturbing the ''good order or management of the police gaol'' for
spitting blood on the floor of a holding cell.
However, almost all the charges were dismissed and Mr Hassan
is now considering a civil compensation claim against the police
Senior Constable Timothy McAdie dragged Mr Hassan from the driver's
seat of a car that had been clocked travelling at 136km/h on the Western
Highway near Stawell in the early hours of November 14, 2010.
Police had seen the occupants of the vehicle swapping seats
and Senior Constable McAdie later told his partner - who did not see the
punch but heard a ''thump'' - that he hit Mr Hassan while trying to
ascertain who had been driving.
Mr Hassan was still bleeding when he was taken to Stawell police station and put in a holding cell.
He spat blood towards a drain, but at least two 50 cent-sized
globules on the floor were pointed out to him by police, which he then
tried to wipe up with his shirt.
A visit to the Royal Adelaide Hospital later in the day confirmed that Mr Hassan's jaw was fractured.
Local police investigated an initial ethical standards complaint against Senior Constable McAdie, which was not substantiated.
Then, in November 2012, Mr Hassan was almost completely
cleared of seven charges, included assaulting and threatening police, at
a three-day trial at the Horsham Magistrates Court.
Magistrate Peter Couzens - who has since been made a judge of
the County Court and president of the Children's Court of Victoria -
told Mr Hassan: ''I'm satisfied that you were a victim of an assault on
that day by a police officer.''
He found that Senior Constable McAdie had acted unlawfully and outside the execution of his duty.
Police initially claimed Mr Hassan threw an elbow at Senior
Constable McAdie, but that charge collapsed for lack of evidence when
the prosecution argued the policeman was unfit to take the stand because
of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by two unrelated incidents.
During the trial Senior Constable McAdie was on holiday in Thailand.
Mr Couzens found Mr Hassan ''all but 100 per cent
successful'' in defending the charges, save for using threatening words
in a public place. No conviction was recorded and Mr Hassan was fined
$300 for telling Senior Constable McAdie that next time he saw him he
would get a gun and shoot him.
''[Mr Hassan] was pissed off and he had every reason to be,''
Mr Couzens said. ''Those words were uttered in that state of mind by a
young person who was suffering a serious injury, inflicted by a police
officer who had no right to act in the way that he did.''
The assistant commissioner of Victoria Police's Professional
Standards Command has ordered its detectives to reinvestigate the
Mr Hassan was born in Somalia and arrived in Australia in 2002 after spending his early life in refugee camps in Africa.
At the trial it emerged that Senior Constable McAdie had been
the subject of previous assault allegations and was acquitted of
assault charges in the County Court in 2001. He is currently on leave.
Mr Couzens said he was ''troubled'' by the police decision to
charge Mr Hassan with disturbing the good order of the jail, given that
he was put in a cell while bleeding, in an agitated state, and without
any means of stopping the flow of blood. ''What's he supposed to do?''
Mr Couzens asked. ''He can't possibly be expected to prevent every
droplet of blood from getting onto an open surface.''
Mr Hassan was represented by Fitzroy Legal Service and high-profile barrister Dyson Hore-Lacy, SC.
When Mr Hore-Lacy suggested to police investigator Sergeant
Janne Kennedy that she had conducted a prosecution that aimed to charge
Mr Hassan with as many offences as possible, she replied: ''I think
there were probably other charges I probably should have considered.''
The parties are in talks after costs were awarded against Victoria Police.
Mr Couzens noted that police had rejected a settlement offer
from Mr Hassan's lawyers, and must have known Senior Constable McAdie
would not be called as a witness.
''Why proceed without him? Why not roll over?'' Mr Couzens asked.
The prosecutor replied: ''I am guided by my managers.''