Police had to call 111 for pregnant Dotcom
KIRSTY JOHNSTON AND IAN STEWARD
Kim Dotcom's pregnant wife was prevented from calling for medical help on the day of the raids on her Auckland home because police had seized the phone lines, a court has heard.
Pregnant with twins, Mona Dotcom believed she was experiencing contractions and wanted to call a doctor following her husband's dramatic arrest, but was unable to, defence lawyer Paul Davison said this morning.
The evidence was presented at a three-day hearing at the High Court in Auckland into the police raid at Dotcom's home in January.
Search warrants issued for the raid were ruled illegal by Justice Helen Winkelmann and lawyers are now going over what happened to determine what can legally be done to remedy the situation for Dotcom.
Today, Davison said all communications, including Mrs Dotcom's mobile phone, were seized by police during the raid. The cars were also seized, leaving the family without transportation.
Instead, Mrs Dotcom had to rely on police officers to help her. Eventually, Davison said, they dialled 111 for an ambulance.
In cross examining Detective Sergeant Steve Humphreys, the officer in charge of executing the search warrant, Davison put it to him: "That's a fairly poor level of response in terms of Mrs Dotcom. That all police could do was facilitate a 111 call."
Humphreys said police officers were not medical staff and were not equipped to deal with medical emergencies.
"You had seized communications. Seized her cell phone. Seized cars that would enable staff to assist her. You had hold of all vital aspects of communication and transport and all you were doing was facilitating a 111 call. That's a pathetic response from police officers... What do you say to that?" Davison said.
Humphreys said if there was a situation where Mrs Dotcom was in medical trouble then "anything that could have been done would have been done".
Davison then asked: "How did you know it wasn't urgent?"
Humphreys said he first became aware of the situation when another officer called to say police had been going to take Mrs Dotcom to hospital in a private car, but they decided to call an ambulance instead.
Davison pointed out that police weren't unaware of the potential issues with Mrs Dotcom's pregnancy, because they had appointed welfare officers to look after her on the day of the raids.
FIGHT TO KEEP POLICE SECRETS
The Crown has lodged an urgent appeal to ensure details about New Zealand's elite police team are kept secret.
Part of the heavy suppression surrounding the movements of the Special Tactics Group was lifted by Justice Winkelmann at the hearing yesterday.
Winkelmann ruled documents, including the police checklist used to determine if Dotcom was a dangerous subject, could be made public.
However, the Crown announced this morning it would appeal this decision.
The Crown has said police believe that making details public would compromise their operational capability.
It was also revealed that part of the suppression was breached last night.
A promo for TV3's Campbell Live show included STG call signs, which were not allowed to be broadcast.
Justice Winkelmann said the suppression breach will be referred to the Solicitor-General.
An appeal hearing will be held in the next day or two.
US authorities claim Dotcom and his three co-accused - Mathias Ortmann, Fin Batato and Bram van der Kolk - used the Megaupload website and its affiliated sites to knowingly make money from pirated movies and games.
They are facing copyright infringement and money laundering charges, and extradition from New Zealand.
POLICE DENY DOTCOM ASSAULT
Yesterday police denied assaulting Dotcom by standing on his hand and punching him in the face when they arrested him.
The police action was dissected in minute detail yesterday with video shot from a police helicopter and CCTV footage from the Dotcom house played to the court.
Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison, QC, focussed on the moment Dotcom was found by police hiding in a safe room in the mansion.
Dotcom said he raised his hands in a surrender motion but police still threw him to the ground, kicked him, punched him and stood on his hand hard enough and long enough to make it bleed.
The two officers who made the arrest, both members of the elite police Special Tactics Group, testified that Dotcom was mistaken.
One officer said he saw a colleague who weighed about 120kg accidentally stand on Dotcom's hand momentarily.
He later saw Dotcom "sitting there squeezing his finger to try and get blood out".
Both denied that anyone hit Dotcom.
The officers agreed the STG was a tight group but they agreed not reporting an assault would be a breach of duties.
The CCTV footage played to the court showed two helicopters landing in quick succession at the sprawling home, formerly known as the Chrisco mansion, north of Auckland in January.
Five armed men exited each helicopter and then three vans and a car quickly arrived disgorging more armed men, some with dogs.
The leader of the STG, who has name suppression, told the court the door to the house was unlocked.
He went upstairs and another team member knocked down the door to Dotcom's bedroom. The officer said Dotcom was not there but his bed was warm to the touch, indicating he had just left.
He said a "dumb waiter" type elevator in the room was suspected of being a hiding place.
Sledgehammers and then a mechanical saw were used to breach the walls searching for a hidey-hole.
The officer said he spoke to one of Dotcom's bodyguards, Wayne Tempero, who had been apprehended in the courtyard, about where Dotcom was hiding.
Tempero showed him a safe room that was accessed from the back of a wardrobe.
The officer said Dotcom was sitting behind a pillar in the safe room with his back to police. A loaded firearm was across the room from him.
Police pulled Dotcom to the ground into a spread-eagle position and one of the officers stood on Dotcom's hand.
Davison suggested standing on the hand was intentional but the officer denied this. He also denied he was shouting and was "hyped-up" as Tempero had said.
Officers said pictures of the Megaupload millionaire carrying a shotgun were part of the reason the country's elite police team were brought in to arrest him.
There were "underlying" suspicions of use of firearms at the house and also of "over-zealous" protection staff.
Documents assessing police options for the raid weighed the risks against "perception of heavy-handed New Zealand police action", the court heard.
- © Fairfax NZ News