Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 39, leaves Lismore Local Court after the first four days of a hearing during which he has been defending a charge of common assault. The hearing will continue in the new year. Picture: Liana Boss
Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 39, leaves Lismore Local Court after the first four days of a hearing during which he has been defending a charge of common assault. The hearing will continue in the new year. Picture: Liana Boss

What 10 witnesses have said so far in cop’s assault hearing

FURTHER time has been allocated for the hearing of a police officer charged with assault.

Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 39, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of common assault which arose from the January 11, 2018 detention of a drug-affected teen in a Byron Bay laneway.

The hearing was scheduled to span four days, from Monday to Thursday.

But proceedings were not finalised by Thursday afternoon and Magistrate Michael Dakin scheduled the hearing to continue from February 23 to 25 next year.

With the proceedings on hold until that time, The Northern Star has put together a run-down of who has appeared, and what has been said so far.

 

The context

Police were called to Lateen Lane, Byron Bay, about 2.30am on January 11, 2018.

The Nomads backpacker hostel night manager had called police and told them of a young male, apparently drug-affected, naked and yelling in the street.

 

The prosecution case

DPP prosecutor Brittany Parker has alleged Sen-Constable Greenhalgh hit the 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named, at least 18 times with his baton before the boy was placed in a police vehicle in Lateen Lane.

The prosecution case relies on six particular baton strikes, which Sen-Constable Greenhalgh allegedly inflicted while the boy was handcuffed and restrained on the ground.

Ms Parker has argued those six strikes "were an unreasonable use of force" and constitute common assault.

DPP prosecutor Brittany Parker leaves Lismore Local Court after the fourth day of a hearing into the alleged assault of a teen in Byron Bay. A police officer is defending the allegation. Picture: Liana Boss.
DPP prosecutor Brittany Parker leaves Lismore Local Court after the fourth day of a hearing into the alleged assault of a teen in Byron Bay. A police officer is defending the allegation. Picture: Liana Boss.

The defence case

Barrister Brent Haverfield indicated in his opening submissions the defence case would rely on two sections of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act.

He said his client would also rely, to some extent, on self defence.

The prosecution case has not finished so Mr Haverfield has not yet had the chance to call any defence witnesses.

 

Defence barrister Brent Haverfield leaves Lismore Local Court on Thursday, November 12, 2020. Mr Haverfield is representing a police officer who is defending a charge of common assault. Picture: Liana Boss
Defence barrister Brent Haverfield leaves Lismore Local Court on Thursday, November 12, 2020. Mr Haverfield is representing a police officer who is defending a charge of common assault. Picture: Liana Boss

Alleged victim's mother

The first prosecution witness to give evidence was the mother of the alleged victim.

As with her son, she cannot be named for legal reasons.

She told the court her son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at a young age.

Their family was holidaying in Byron Bay at the time.

She recalled allowing her son to explore the Apex Park area, as there was an under-18s silent disco being held on the beachfront.

They remained in contact for several hours, then the family searched desperately for the teen when they could not find him.

The mother told the court she contacted Byron Bay police at one point, but they told her they had not seen her son.

Early the next morning she received a call that her son was at the Tweed Hospital.

She said when she arrived there he was "not in a good place … physically or mentally".

 

The alleged victim

The teen, now aged 19, also gave evidence on the first day of the hearing.

Appearing via video link from a remote witness room, he told the court he met a group of older boys near Main Beach.

They offered him a Corona beer and he drank most of it, the court hear.

He then started "feeling strange" and hallucinating, the court heard.

He told the court he was growing increasingly disoriented and could not find his family's hotel after the group left him a car park hours later.

The teen, who recalled "feeling very dehydrated" told the court he did not understand who police were when they arrived in Lateen Lane.

He told the court of a "pinch" on his stomach area and later "pressure" on his body and a "big black thing moving".

"I felt like I was being hit by something … but I didn't know what it was," he said.

There was a gap in his memory before he woke up in an ambulance.

 

Daniel Thomas

A resident of Byron Bay at the time of the incident, Daniel Thomas was living in a unit with a balcony that overlooked Lateen Lane.

The court heard his partner - who has not appeared as a witness - filmed part of the struggle between police and the teen on her mobile phone.

That video sparked a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission inquiry into the incident.

Mr Thomas said the boy was "screaming", "crying out for help" and pacing along the street.

"He was saying that he wanted this experience to end," he said.

"He was asking for help, for water."

After the teen was in the back of a police vehicle, Mr Thomas thought one of the officer appeared distressed.

"It almost looked like he was crying," he said.

He said another officer told people standing nearby words to the effect of: "you better not have f---ing recorded this".

 

Michial Luke Greenhalgh and a Police Association of NSW representative leaving Lismore Local Court.
Michial Luke Greenhalgh and a Police Association of NSW representative leaving Lismore Local Court.

Shane Marion

Witness Shane Marion, who was staying in a holiday unit overlooking Lateen Lane, told the court the boy kept asking for help and for water and calling to God.

Shane Marion, who was staying in an apartment with a balcony overlooking Lateen Lane, yesterday told the court he woke to "screams coming from the laneway".

Several witnesses have described the teen yelling for help and water and calling to God.

Mr Marion couldn't recall seeing the teen try to attack police, although he left the balcony and returned inside the apartment on several occasions.

Mr Marion told the court he believed he saw a police officer strike the teen "in the upper body".

He said while being struck with the baton the boy was struggling and moving around "the entire time".

 

Justin Millar

Justin Millar, the night manager of Nomads Byron Bay Backpackers at the time of the incident, phoned police after his attempts to talk to the teen were unsuccessful.

A call to a security company had gone unanswered.

Mr Millar, appearing via video link from his home country of Canada, told the court he never saw the teen act aggressively toward police, or display violence to any other person.

Mr Millar said the boy was "not in a right state of mind".

Mr Millar told the court police yelled: "get on the ground, c - t" several times after the teen was pepper sprayed and Tasered.

When asked by the prosecution if he saw the teen "do anything towards the police" before he was hit repeatedly with a baton, Mr Millar replied: "No".

 

Senior Constable Matthew Roach

DETAINING the young person was the hardest effort to restrain a person in Senior Constable Matthew Roach's 13 year policing career, the court heard.

Sen-Constable Roach said

Having worked alongside the accused on the night in question, Sen-Constable Roach told the court the teen "seemed disorientated" and was yelling when they arrived.

He said the boy took a "haymaker-like swing" toward him, which didn't connect.

The court heard he used his OC spray, twice, but it had little effect.

This was spray later revealed to have been out of date, although it's not clear whether that impacted its effectiveness.

He said the accused then Tasered the boy.

As their two colleagues arrived and got involved with an effort to control the boy, he told the court the accused struck the teen with an extendible baton, perhaps five or six times, while they were trying to apply handcuffs.

The court heard Sen-Constable Roach believed he heard, but did not see, further baton strikes after the boy was handcuffed.

He said the "profusely sweating" boy had nearly slipped out of a first pair of handcuffs, so a second pair was applied and he stood on them to secure his arms on the ground.

In a report Sen-Constable Roach wrote in order to have the teen sent to the Tweed Hospital, he said the boy had "resisted with extreme strength", appeared affected by LSD and "didn't comply with police directions to get on the ground".

During cross-examination Sen-Constable Roach agreed the teen was under control and only gave an intelligible response to police after the final six baton strikes allegedly inflicted by Sen-Constable Greenhalgh.

 

 

Senior Constable Mark Sims

One of the four officers to attend Lateen Lane, Sen-Constable Mark Sims said he believed ti was paramount to detain the teen "not only for his own safety but for the safety of the community as well".

He told the court he had been shown the mobile phone footage of the incident about 20 times during the LECC inquiry.

Sen-Constable Sims said he heard a Taser (used by the accused) being deployed, then saw the teen hitting the ground, as he exited his vehicle at the scene.

He said the boy was moving toward the accused prior to this

He told the court the boy was "very erratic and very aggressive in his movements" at times.

After one handcuff was applied, Sen-Constable Sims said the boy had an "explosion of energy".

"He was very sweaty," he said.

"I got kicked in the head at one point … which threw me off."

He was the second officer to agree holding onto the teen was like grabbing "wet soap".

He told the court he leant against a fence after the teen was restrained because he was exhausted from the effort.

When the defence put to him a scenario of "superhuman strength" attributable to the LSD he had ingested, Sen-Constable Sims agreed.

 

Sergeant Christopher Neaves

Sgt Christopher Neaves was the supervisor and custody manager at Byron Bay Police Station on the night in question.

He said it was an "obvious" decision to send two police cars to Lateen Lane.

The court heard there was an incident near Lighthouse Rd a few weeks prior, also involving a nude, excessively sweaty and drug-affected male.

Sgt Neaves told the court that man headbutted a police vehicle, shattering the windscreen.

He said that person was detailed "with great difficulty" and the officers were helped by "at least one" of the man's friends.

After the Lateen Lane incident, Sgt Neaves said his first impression of the youth when he arrived at the station was that he "appeared anxious, agitated" and was, in his opinion "in a drug induced psychosis".

The court heard Sgt Neaves initially thought the boy was "18 or 19" but soon made inquiries to confirm his identity and age.

"Because of the time of night and the location where he was detained my initial assumption was he was a young backpacker or a young adult who had been out that night," he said.

From his observations, Sgt Neaves said he didn't believe the boy was "responding to any pain compliance".

 

Benjamin Lally, paramedic

PARAMEDIC Benjamin Lally, who attended the police station to transport the teen to hospital, had limited independent memory of the night in question when he appeared as a witness on Thursday.

The court heard Mr Lally had authored a record of the transfer which indicated the boy had reported taking LSD and appeared to be in a drug-induced psychosis.

Asked to clarify in cross-examination, Mr Lally said this would typically involve "erratic behaviour".

The court heard Mr Lally took the boy's pulse at 4am, about 40 minutes after he was given a sedative.

The court heard it would be typical to take a patient's blood pressure and pulse immediately, but one reason paramedics wouldn't do this is if it is unsafe to do so.

In his documentation, Mr Lally had written observations of the patient were "incomplete" because the boy was "combative", the court heard.

 

Sergeant William Watt

Appearing via video link from Surry Hills, Sgt William Watt, attached to the Weapons and Tactics Policy and Review branch of NSW Police, gave evidence about police training, including the accused's training records.

He also gave evidence as to preferred methods of control used by police.

Ms Parker asked Sgt What to identify "the overriding principal that applies" to the use of a baton, although techniques are "not entirely consistent" because of the "varied nature of policing".

Sgt Watt said the overriding principal was "that the force be reasonable".

His cross-examination began shortly before the case was adjourned, and this will continue in February.


Motorbikers flock to Roma for huge Christmas charity run

Premium Content Motorbikers flock to Roma for huge Christmas charity run

THIS year’s Maranoa Motorcyclists Toy Run had the largest turnout since 2012, with...

Hours long police pursuit locates stolen Miles car

Premium Content Hours long police pursuit locates stolen Miles car

A CAR stolen from Miles this morning was located 130km from where it was taken.

Truck carrying machinery ablaze on Leichhardt Highway

Premium Content Truck carrying machinery ablaze on Leichhardt Highway

EMERGENCY services rushed to the scene of a vehicle fire on the Leichhardt Hwy...