Cop not guilty of assault after running into cyclist

A police officer who allegedly drove an unmarked police car into a cyclist who was not wearing a helmet has been found not guilty.

Julia Lyneen Reddish, 40, appeared in Hamilton District Court before Judge Rosemary Riddell yesterday, where she defended a charge of assault with a blunt instrument.

In summing up, Judge Riddell concluded she did not find that Reddish's vehicle was used as a weapon.

The charge related to an incident in April last year where Reddish was accused of using excess force to stop Francis Wayne Marks, after she nudged the back of his bicycle with the front bumper of her unmarked police car.

Marks had earlier fled from the constable after being confronted about riding his bicycle while not wearing a helmet.

Marks, a gravedigger, told the court that as a result of the incident he suffered a dislocated shoulder joint, grazes and bruises.

However, Judge Riddell said as the court was not presented with medical evidence of the injuries it was difficult to determine if the injury was a result of being hit by the vehicle.

After the verdict, Reddish, who was at times flustered under cross-examination, smiled and hugged supporters in the gallery.

Judge Riddell said she was a "cautious" and "credible" witness.

The same could not be said of the complainant, the judge said.

Five witnesses were called by the prosecution, including three police officers.

The court heard that Reddish, an officer in Hamilton Central's strategic traffic unit, was conducting routine traffic duties at 10.50am on April 22 when she approached Marks outside the Five Cross Roads Cake Kitchen.

According to Judge Riddell's summary, after asking him why he had not been wearing a helmet when riding earlier, he was asked for his details.

Marks provided a false name and address and Reddish warned him of the consequence of giving false details. He was asked to stay put while she made further inquiries.

However, Marks fled on his bike through a McDonalds car park and onto Peachgrove Rd. He then biked, on the footpath, along Daisy St, onto Pearson St and finally onto Brooklyn Rd.

Reddish initiated a pursuit, with siren and lights.

Police called for him to stop on a number of occasions, which he ignored.

On Brooklyn Rd, Reddish drove the car up onto the curb, behind Marks, and connected with the back of his bike.

Reddish then arrested Marks after a brief struggle, with the assistance of a man who had witnessed the pursuit from nearby.

Police prosecutor Mark Wilton said the defendant "intentionally" used the car to knock Marks off his bike. This was the assault.

"[There are] questions over whether the force used by the accused was reasonable and whether less violent means were able to be used," he said.

Defence lawyer Mike Curran said his client did not have any alternative at the time and acted in her duty.

Reddish told the court that she believed her decision to nudge Marks was reasonable "under the circumstances".

"At that time the actions of my driving were proportionate and relevant," she said.

Curran had earlier argued the case should be dismissed, as the prosecution did not present any evidence to suggest how the arrest might have been executed in a less violent way. 

Fairfax Media