Police under pressure in trial

ALLEGATIONS in the Maclean Local Court yesterday of missing police video footage, police pressuring witnesses making statements and suggestions of police giving alleged offenders’ names to witnesses continued to hamper the prosecution’s efforts to get convictions over the 2010 Valentine’s Day Yamba riot.

The court heard evidence from four civilian witnesses, one of whom was a juvenile, during the second day of the second three-week sitting of the trial.

The first witness to give evidence, Nicholas Boothby, 19, struggled to recall details of the night.

This prompted police prosecutor Bob Hanzic to call for leave under Section 32 so the witness could refresh his memory from his statement.

“This appears to be an ongoing trend of youth in this town,” Mr Hanzic said.

“It is a major incident that one would expect all persons to recall.”

Magistrate John Andrews granted leave.

Mr Boothby continued to struggle to recall details after reading the statement, with Mr Hanzic applying to cross examine the witness as his statement was inconsistent and unfavourable, which was granted.

Under cross examination, Mr Boothby recalled details including bottles being thrown at a police vehicle, the vehicle on fire, and Glen Ayres’ alleged involvement in the riot.

When questioned by Ayres’ solicitor, Joe Fahey, how he knew his client, Mr Boothby replied “Because that is what the detective said his first name was.”

Detective Sergeant Graham Burke then entered the witness box and was asked if he showed Mr Boothby police video evidence before taking his statement.

“I don’t recall whether it was before or during the time he made his statement,” Det Sgt Burke said.

Det Sgt Burke was then questioned about footage shot from a camera in the Wooli police vehicle that was erased.

He said it was his habit to delete footage after it had been transferred to a DVD to free up memory on the video camera.

The defence claimed the ability to expertly examine the integrity of the footage on the camera had been compromised.

The third witness, Kurt Everson, 19, told of being pressured by Senior Constable Lindy Roberts to make his statement.

“I kept saying I think I saw Glen Ayres and she said you can’t say I think ... it’s either one or the other, you know or you don’t know,” Mr Everson said.

When Mr Hanzic asked the fourth witness, Bradley Everson, if he saw Ayres and what he was doing, Mr Fahey objected, claiming it was a leading question.

This led to Mr Fahey requesting Magistrate Andrews disqualify himself from proceedings.

“Well I refuse to disqualify myself,” Mr Andrews said.

The trial continues.

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