PIC hearing told conflicting evidence from confused cop
ONE of four Richmond police officers involved in a violent struggle with a young Aboriginal man has told a hearing he does not remember whether the complainant was conscious when he was left on a cell floor.
During an all-day grilling before the Police Integrity Commission, Constable Luke Mewing repeatedly used memory loss, confusion and lack of experience as reasons for his conflicting evidence about the night Corey Barker spent in the Ballina watchhouse.
Much of the questioning surrounded the content of a CCTV video clip of the struggle, which led a Ballina magistrate to dismiss Mr Barker's charge of seriously assaulting a police officer and refer the case to PIC last year.
In the footage, Const Mewing can be seen inflicting a "knee strike" on Mr Barker which he told the hearing was used as a "distraction technique" to get Mr Barker to think 'Oh that hurts' and release his hand from beneath his body.
Asked how Mr Barker was expected to free his hand when he had "three officers sitting on top of him", Const Mewing said he didn't know.
At one point counsel assisting the commissioner asked Const Mewing to explain why he had previously denied having knowledge about the content of the footage, when a police email revealed he had been made aware of it.
The email, forwarded to the officers involved, was sent before Const Mewing's court appearance and explained there was "no clear evidence" in the footage of Mr Barker punching Senior Constable David Hill, as police had alleged.
The officers were also informed that in the footage, Sen Const Ryan Eckersley could be seen "lashing forward with his boot" in the direction of Mr Barker and Sen Const Hill.
Const Mewing said he did not remember receiving the email but conceded "it looks like he's giving us the heads-up".
He denied that such a practice was "common" amongst officers attached to the Richmond command.
Asked if he had been aware at the time that Mr Barker could have been jailed had he been convicted of assaulting a police officer, Const Mewing said "I don't think so".
He also said he did not remember whether Mr Barker was conscious or if he had received medical attention after being placed in a back cell following the altercation with police.
The hearing will continue on Monday.
This week APN Newsdesk described Constable Mewing as a "former officer".
It is now understood that while Constable Mewing is not currently performing duties as an officer, he is still a member of the NSW Police Force.