Corey Barker
Corey Barker Jessica Grewal

Barker was 'ferocious', officer tells inquiry

CUSTODY reports from the night a young Aboriginal man was wrestled by officers in the Ballina watchhouse are "hopelessly inaccurate", the Police Integrity Commission has heard.

Sergeant Robert McCubben, a police officer with more than 22 years experience, was shift supervisor and custody manager when Corey Barker, 23, and a couple who had been involved in a domestic dispute, were taken to the Ballina station on January 14, 2011.

At some point during what Sgt McCubben described as a "chaotic" night, information was entered into the police database which suggested all three prisoners had been "checked" and "nil complaints" had been received.

Sgt McCubben explained he or the "custody assist" officer were expected to regularly check if prisoners were "upright and breathing" and enter the details into the custody reports.

But when printouts of the reports on each prisoner were presented to the hearing, it was revealed that but for one word, all three contained the exact same information.

The reports on Mr Barker and the other male prisoner even included the line "female given bathroom break" which had been included in the report of the female detainee.

Visibly flustered and confused, Sgt McCubben explained that he was doing his best with what he had on the only night on the job that he could remember when three "non-compliant, swearing" prisoners had been placed under his care.

He said that prior to his transfer to the Ballina station about 12 months beforehand; he worked with transit and water police and had not been faced with new technology since the late 90s.

He said he had not received any training and explained that while he had "very little recollection" of the night, it was possible that while "jumping between different entries", mistakes had been made.

The commission also heard that at the time Sgt McCubben came into contact with Mr Barker, he was struggling to cope with psychological and emotional problems linked to his line of work.

Asked why Mr Barker had been moved from the dock to the back cells, where the struggle captured on CCTV footage occurred, Sgt McCubben said he had been genuinely scared the prisoner "was capable of doing real damage to me".

He said as an officer, he was used to being verbally abused but Mr Barker had been "ferocious" and personal in his insults.

Two of Mr Barker's family members, who were present at the hearing, laughed out loud as Sgt McCubben recalled him allegedly saying "come here you little short f***...I'll fight you c***".

As a result of the reported abuse, Sgt McCubben decided he wanted Mr Barker "down the back".

He couldn't recall which officers he had spoken to or how Mr Barker was removed from the dock but remembered- he "just wanted him out".

The hearing continues.


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