Bad news for cops accused of bashing teenager
Two Whyalla police officers accused of bashing a teenager have had their permanent stay of proceedings overturned by the Supreme Court.
Andrew Allan Jaunay and Sean Gregory Hobbs were each charged in May 2017 with aggravated assault over an alleged altercation with 17-year-old on October 25, 2013, while they were on duty.
A magistrate ordered the charges be stayed, essentially bringing the criminal case to an end, because of the lengthy delay in charging the men and the "unfair and oppressive case" against them.
Lawyers for the two police officers said statements given by them in the days after the teenager and his mother made a complaint were not lawful and could not be used in court.
In a judgment published this week, the full sitting of the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the order to stay the proceedings.
The two men are accused of abusing their positions as police officers to assault the boy and then telling him he would be "hunted down" if he told anyone what happened.
The police officers maintained in their statements that the teenager had thrown himself to the ground and was being "dramatic".
An investigation into the incident was launched after a complaint was made to the Police Complaints Authority and later the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption joined the investigation against the officers.
Chief Justice Chris Kourakis ruled that Jaunay and Hobbs had not been ordered to make statements by a senior officer.
Instead he found the acting inspector had invited the pair to make a statement about what happened that night.
Chief Justice Kourakis did agree with the magistrate's comments that the years in between the incident and the criminal charges was unusual.
"This is not a case in which the investigators or prosecutors acted recklessly by ignoring, or failing unreasonably to consider, that their conduct might not be authorised by law.
"The delay in laying the information is substantial and not properly explained," he said,
"However, given the narrow compass of the factual dispute and that the statements of the witnesses to it were recorded soon thereafter, there is no forensic unfairness."
He said there was strong public interest in ensuring assault charges in general and allegations made against police officers are dealt with appropriately.
It is unclear when the pair will appear in court again.
Originally published as Police officers accused of bashing teenager going back to court