Court backs police

DESPITE conceding police were trespassing on the McNeill family's Yamba property on the night of the 2010 Valentine's Day Yamba riot, Magistrate John Andrews yesterday ruled the evidence they obtained must be included in the current riot trial.

After hearing two days of submissions from both the defence and prosecution concerning the “voir dire”, a trial within a trial, and considering the submissions overnight, Mr Andrews made his ruling.

He said the response by the defendants to the illegal police presence was disproportionate to the trespass.

Mr Andrews said whereas the penalty for trespass was a $550 fine, the maximum penalty for riot was up to 15 years in prison.

Before the incident occurred he said two police left the scene and went to Yamba police station to apply for a warrant.

“In my view it is not a grave breach by any means,” he said.

“The evidence is highly important to the proceedings.”

Following the ruling, the defence legal representatives launched into “Prasad” applications, arguing the police evidence was too unreliable for a magistrate to convict their clients.

Arguments centred around unreliable identification, conflicting police evidence and the contamination of police evidence as a result of a debrief that occurred soon after the incident, before police prepared their statement.

The trial continues today.



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