Police brutality claims at Christchurch fight trial

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 14:14 23/01/2013

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Police will face allegations of brutality at the trial of two women charged after an early-morning fracas outside the Woolston Tavern and its Club 604 nightclub in Christchurch.

One of the women, 21, is charged with assaulting, obstructing and resisting the police.

The other, 23, is charged with obstructing and resisting the police.

They deny the charges.

The Christchurch District Court was told today the women's clothing became "displaced" during a struggle that followed the police ordering the closing of the premises on July 8.

Defence counsel Chris Persson asked Judge Robert Murfitt for an order prohibiting "reproduction or publication" of a video of the incident. 

He said there had been considerable blogging on the case.

He believed that if the video "went viral on YouTube, the police will come in for a great deal of condemnation".

He objected to the police account of events later in the night at the central police station, although police prosecutor Glenn Henderson said the events there clearly indicated that the women involved were more intoxicated than the defence suggested.

Persson said the police had refused to disclose closed-circuit footage from the police station.

"I don't like using the term 'police brutality', but there are certainly indications from the photographs that that is what occurred at the central police station," he said.

The two women have continued name suppression, and the police asked today for suppression of the names of the two arresting officers who will give evidence at the trial.

Henderson asked for the suppression in view of allegations raised by the defence, which could lead to a further inquiry by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Persson said: "There were concerns about how the women were treated at the police station. Clearly, that's going to be a matter for the IPCA or another tribunal."

Henderson said the police had decided to close the premises about 1.30am on July 8 because of concerns about intoxication and disorder.

Between 150 and 200 poeple were required to leave the premises and the car park.

Rocks and bottles were thrown in the disorder that followed, and police made several arrests, including that of the two women, he said.

One woman struggled with the police and lifted her legs while she was being held, causing herself and two police officers to fall to the ground.

"During the struggle, her breasts have been to some degree exposed," he said.

The other woman had ignored police instructions, verbally abused the police and swung several punches at an officer. He was hit around the arms and shoulders, but not hurt.

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"She was taken to the ground by the officer and her clothing became displaced," Henderson said.

She was then turned on her stomach, restrained and handcuffed, he said.

Sergeant Anna Lloyd, who had made the decision to close the tavern, said it was decided to clear the licensed premises, and clearing the car park was a "natural progression" because the group was being unco-operative, aggressive and making a nuisance.

Fifteen police witnesses will be called during the judge-alone trial, which is expected to continue for several days.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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