February 24, 2011
Aja Styles, WA Today
A wrongful conviction against Taser victim Kevin Spratt has been quashed by the Court of Appeal after horrifying footage showing nine police brutalising the 41-year-old Aboriginal man was made public.
Internal CCTV footage from inside the East Perth lock-up showed Mr Spratt being Tasered 14 times while on the floor screaming in agony was broadcast worldwide last year, after being released by the Corruption and Crime Commission.
Mr Spratt had been arrested in August 2008 after an incident in King William Street in Bayswater. But he was further charged with obstructing officers in the Watch House, which related to the Tasering incident.
Advertisement: Story continues below Mr Spratt served two months jail for the offence, which ran concurrently with other jail terms imposed for three other charges.
Mr Spratt brought his conviction for obstructing police before the Court of Appeal today.
The action was against his arresting officer, Detective Constable Brett Fowler, who wrote up the report in which it stated that Mr Spratt "again became violent and aggressive towards police who were attempting to restrain him by kicking and flailing his arms towards police as they approached".
Internal CCTV footage of the Watch House showed Mr Spratt simply sitting on a chair grabbing hold of the seat with his arms and hands as the Taser barbs were deployed.
Justice Stephen Hall found that Mr Spratt had been denied justice by not being able to view the footage prior to pleading guilty to the charge in the Perth Magistrates Court and his appeal was granted.
Outside court Mr Spratt's lawyer Steven Penglis said they were seeking financial compensation for what occurred in the watch house.
"The system failed Kevin in this regard in two ways; first, as you've heard, we had a charge laid by a police officer who wasn't there at the time of the alleged offence and didn't take steps to verify that it was true by looking at the CCTV footage and secondly, when that police officer realised that it was wrong he didn't take any steps to ensure that it came to the attention of Kevin, the prosecuting sergeant or the court," he said.
Mr Penglis has written to the Police Commissioner about these concerns.
Mr Spratt said he was pleased with the outcome.
"It has brought a lot of bad memories back but I just want to move on with life," he said.
Earlier today, Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan conceded claims about Kevin Spratt resisting police in the Perth Watch House appeared to be wrong.
Mr O'Callaghan rejected shadow attorney-general John Quigley's assertions in Parliament last week that he lied the the public in a "flow-chart" of the events displayed to the media to explain the lead-up to that night, saying at the time he believed the statement of material facts to be correct.
"There is no deliberate intent to mislead anybody at all, it is not my style, I have never done it nor will do it," he told 6PR Radio.
The flow chart was designed to help media understand the chain of events when reporting and was only meant as "an aid", Mr O'Callaghan said.
He did however concede he was "not (happy) now" after it was revealed that the charges of obstructing officers came after the Tasers were deployed.
But he said he has been unable to interview the officers involved because the CCC had taken over the inquiry since November 15 last year and it was now up to the corruption watchdog to release their findings.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Thursday, February 24, 2011
February 24, 2011