August 16, 2019

STR v State of NSW: Successful claim for false imprisonment, assault, battery and malicious prosecution

Facts: Man with disability unlawfully arrested and imprisoned

STR, the Plaintiff, suffers from a brain and physical injury following a workplace accident. He also suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. STR appointed a full-time carer. This carer was someone who police later alleged was supplying prohibited drugs. STR would drive his carer around from time to time, as he enjoyed the company and often received a free lunch.

On one occasion, police stopped their car. A police officer arrested STR for supply of prohibited drugs, then instructed him to exit the vehicle and place his hands behind his back. The officer then placed handcuffs on STR’s wrists and sat STR on the curb close to the gutter. This caused STR pain and discomfort as a result of his disability. The arresting officers then searched STR’s vehicle and his shopping. Shortly after, STR was put in the rear of a police vehicle and taken to a police station.  There he was placed in a cell.

Not informed of civil rights

At no point prior to or during the investigative process did the officers inform STR that he was entitled to the presence of a support person. Nor did they give STR an opportunity to waive his rights. In the interview, STR confirmed he was not aware his carer was committing any criminal offences during their drives, and that he took part in the drives for companionship.

Refused police bail and facing drugs charges

After this, STR was transferred to another police station. At this time, STR became increasingly distressed, as the officers refused to allow him to take pain medication and sitting in the back of the police vehicle was causing him extreme pain and discomfort. While at this police station, STR was refused police bail. At no point was the Plaintiff told the exact nature of the charges, which were as follows:

  • four counts of supply a prohibited drug,
  • one count of supply prohibited commercial quantity.

STR was held in custody on remand for over a month, before the unsubstantiated charges were eventually withdrawn.

Outcome: Sued Police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors successfully assisted STR in his claim against the State of NSW for:

We settled the proceedings against the State of NSW and STR was compensated well.