Doubt cast on teen witness
DOUBT was cast over the validity of the evidence given by a witness in the 2010 Valentine's Day Yamba riot trial at Maclean Local Court yesterday when the 17-year-old girl admitted she was drunk on the night after consuming half a bottle of vodka mixed with lemonade.
The girl was the second of 11 witnesses to give evidence on day three of the trial's second three-week sitting.
When giving evidence in court yesterday, the girl said she had been drinking and dancing at a party in a shed at the McNeill's residence at Yamba.
The girl said she then went to see what people who had left the shed were doing, and saw a police car with a group of about 20 people throwing bottles and rocks at it.
When asked by police prosecutor Bob Hanzic who she knew in the group, the girl said “I don't remember”.
After Magistrate John Andrews allowed the girl to refresh her memory from her statement, the girl said she saw a teenager and Dylan McNeill throwing bottles and rocks at the police car.
She also said their father, Craig McNeill, was saying “go kids go”.
After a few minutes the girl said she saw the police car smoking and burst into flames, with the flames igniting a nearby car, which she said belonged to Dean Everson.
Under cross examination by Craig McNeill's defence barrister, Peter O'Connor, the girl, who was 16 at the time, admitted to being drunk and her ability to clearly recall the night had been impaired.
“I suggest your memory of these events is a blur because of the degree of affectation by alcohol you were suffering,” Mr O'Connor said.
“Yep,” the girl replied.
The third witness of the day, another 17-year-old girl, gave evidence that bricks and a pole were thrown at the police car.
When Mr Hanzic asked if she recognised the people throwing things she replied “No, they all had shirts around their heads”.
The fourth witness, Tim Bennett, 18, described to the court he saw a group of people, including defendant Craig McNeill, chanting “things along the lines of this is what they deserve and don't mess with Yamba”, before the police vehicle caught fire.
Under cross examination, Mr Bennett admitted to being shown video footage of the incident by police that “sparked” his memory before he made his statement.
He also said he had never met Craig McNeill, never heard him speak, and didn't actually hear him say anything on the night.
The trial continues tomorrow.