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Family caught up in ‘Yamba Riot’ sues NSW Police

TORCHED: A Holden Commodore station wagon was one of two cars torched at Yamba in the early hours of Sunday, February 14, 2010. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK
TORCHED: A Holden Commodore station wagon was one of two cars torched at Yamba in the early hours of Sunday, February 14, 2010. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK

THE family at the centre of an infamous house party, which led to a night of mayhem now known as the Yamba Riot, has returned to court - this time to sue the NSW Police Force.

Craig McNeil found himself behind bars after a party for his 16-year-old daughter Codie allegedly spiralled out of control and ended in the torching of a police car and several arrests on Valentine's Day, 2010.

The original criminal trial heard police - two of whom were injured - were pelted with bricks, rocks and pavers when up to 20 young partygoers took exception to their presence on what Mr McNeil maintained was private property.

Six of the accused adults spent several months in custody awaiting trial over the charges, which were eventually thrown out of court the following year after a judge found some of the police evidence was unreliable.

At least 16 people involved in the party filed a civil claim but the bulk have since been dismissed or dealt with outside of court.

Mr McNeil, his wife Maxine, Codie and son Dylan, are pursuing their claims on the grounds they were treated "unfairly" by police and "publicly humiliated" by the subsequent, high-profile court case.

The NSW District Court heard that following Mr McNeil's acquittal, the family continued to attract hate mail from angry locals, who perceived the alleged offending behaviour towards police as "disgusting", and significant media attention.

On day two of the trial, Mr McNeil was questioned about the number of drunken youths attending what was effectively a "children's party" and his familiarity with the large volume of teenagers - the court heard up to 140 were in attendance - who he had assured police were "all good kids who grew up in the area" in the hours before the melee broke out. While he was only able to identify two of his daughter's teenage friends, Mr McNeil insisted he had recognised many from "around town" on the night of the party.

Asked whether he had shared what the court heard was a "horrible" experience in jail with any of his former co-accused, Mr McNeil said he had spent time at either Grafton or Kempsey with Matthew Newell, Glen Ayres, Douglas Peters and Robert "Robdug" Harvey but denied speaking with them about the case.

The case, which is expected to run for a month, continues in Sydney.

Topics:  court, editors picks, police, riot, yamba



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