Facts: Indigenous man’s civil rights not observed by police
BST is an Indigenous man who was residing at a youth centre at the time of the alleged incident. Police received a radio broadcast that a male had been robbed at a park in Surry Hills, in Sydney’s inner city. Police arrived at the scene and spoke to the victim, who had been walking from the location of the youth centre to the park with a male and female. The victim alleged the man and woman punched and robbed him at the park. The victim provided a description of the male and female, along with three other men who were at the park at the time, none of which matched the appearance of BST.
Police subsequently obtained CCTV footage of the front entrance of the youth centre, which showed the victim, male and female, entering and leaving the youth centre around the time of the alleged robbery. Upon looking at CCTV images, the on-duty manager pointed out the three men who were at the reception and front entrance, around the time the victim was there, and identified one of the males as BST. None of the CCTV images showed BST being in the company of the victim at any time.
Later that day, BST attended the police station to report as part of existing bail conditions connected with an unrelated matter. Police approached BST and had a conversation with him about the robbery, about which BST knew nothing. Shortly thereafter, the police arrested BST who was taken into custody at the police station. At the time of the arrest, the police had no intention of commencing proceedings against BST for a criminal offence, nor did the police know whether BST had any involvement in the alleged robbery. Police arrested BST for the purpose of questioning him and for investigation. BST was then strip-searched, and then was given a questionnaire, where he identified himself as Aboriginal.
Police did not contact a representative of Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Ltd (‘the ALS’) to notify them about BST being in custody. Police did not give BST an opportunity to contact a solicitor from the ALS, or any other lawyer. BST was neither assisted in exercising his rights and understanding the caution, nor informed that he was entitled to the presence of a support person during the interview with police. After an electronically recorded interview, BST was formally charged with Robbery in company contrary to s 97(1) of the Crimes Act1900 (NSW).
BST was denied bail and was detained overnight. The following day, BST was brought before Downing Centre Local Court on Court bail, subject to conditions. The charge proceeded to a defended trial, where the DPP directed that no further proceedings be taken against BST for the charge, and BST was discharged. BST was assaulted, battered, and falsely imprisoned.
Outcome: Successful sued Police for assault, battery and false imprisonment
O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors successfully assisted BST in his claim against the State of NSW for assault, battery, and false imprisonment. We settled the proceedings against the State of NSW and BST was compensated well.