Monday, February 28, 2011

Australia: Supreme Court quashes conviction of brutalized Aboriginal man

Video shows that police lied

An Aboriginal man tasered 14 times at a Perth watch-house has successfully appealed his conviction for obstructing police. Kevin Spratt in the WA Supreme Court on Thursday was acquitted of the charges after Justice Stephen Hall ruled there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Justice Hall said Mr Spratt's guilty plea had been induced by false allegations made by the police prosecution.

Mr Spratt's conviction was questioned after Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) hearings in December prompted Constable Brett Fowler, who laid the charge, to admit the police statement used to obtain the conviction was false. Const Fowler admitted during the CCC hearing that his description of Mr Spratt "kicking" police was contradicted by CCTV footage.

Mr Spratt admitted the offence because he did not remember the incident. He was sentenced to two months' jail, to be served concurrently with an 18-month prison term for other crimes.

Outside court on Thursday, Mr Spratt's lawyer, Steven Penglis, told reporters his client was "pleased" with the outcome. "It's a step, obviously, in the right direction so far as Kevin's concerned," he said. "It has the effect, of course, of getting rid of the suggestion that Kevin was tasered in a Perth watch-house as a consequence of some unlawful conduct on his behalf."

Mr Spratt said the ordeal had brought back a lot of bad memories for him. "I just want to move on with my life," he said outside court.

WA opposition legal affairs spokesman John Quigley said the matter had been a "wicked perversion of justice" by the police and a "grave insult" to the administration of justice. "This has happened right under the nose of Police Minister Rob Johnson," he said. "It's inconceivable that he didn't know about this. This was on his watch."

Mr Quigley said Mr Johnson must "confess" that he was either involved in a cover-up or had "fallen asleep at the wheel" by not knowing about the incident. "There is a serious miscarriage of justice and we now have to have an inquiry," he said.

Original report here

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