Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Assaulted, intimidated or harassed in custody?

"Then make an Apprehended Violence Order application against the police, says assault victim Ms Teresa Kiernan.

On 29th July 2005, the Downing Centre Local Court heard an application against Leading Constable Mathew O'Neil of Surry Hills Police Station.

The court heard that O'Neil and his colleagues threw Teresa Kiernan on the floor in a concrete cell, pushed and shoved her, deliberately caused her to be parted from her essential possessions during her arrest, and unnecessarily teased, jeered and humiliated her.

"I believe there are only two reasons why police abuse vulnerable people in custody" Ms Kiernan said to Magistrate Timothy Keady. "The first is to influence by fear. Police try to get arrested people to plead guilty by using intimidation. The second is because there is no evidence or witnesses, and violent and abusive people throughout the ages have always committed such crimes in this condition."

The AVO application was heard in a matter of minutes before it was dismissed. "To everybody's credit, everybody kept a straight face." says Ms Kiernan. "The industry is not going to cause detriment to one of its own. I note that public servants, lawyers, security guards, police and correctives manage to escape the AVO system."

An AVO means a defendant cannot have a gun license for ten years and cannot work in law enforcement, as well as experience other barriers. My point is that cops, screws, security guards need gun licenses. .. a cop with an AVO is finshed: he will lose his job.

Department of Corrective Services staff can't be employed if they have an AVO. Magistrate Pat O'Shane had an AVO put on her and now can't hear domestic violence cases, thus her employment prospects have been reduced. The legal industry doesn't give a hoot about violence and abuse: all its employees are violent and abusive themselves and they are not getting AVOs put on them.

AVOs in NSW are serious business, with the industry slapping AVOs on people at an alarming rate without the benefit of sophisticated and robust legal system. There is an extraordinary lack of support and structure for defendants in the system, which seems to be looking for new ways to criminalise and marginalise people.

The majority of people in custody in NSW are defendants accused of breaching AVOs, and may be arrested merely on the say-so of an amonial other.

"If every person who got mistreated in custody made an AVO application against abusive police officers, or at least the ringleader, NSW would capture a more accurate profile about abuse of its police powers" says Ms Kiernan.

"It is a well established culture that police know where the video footage is in custody and where it isn't; it is a game to them to dodge it." In addition, Ms Kiernan points out, making an AVO application against a police officer intervenes in the police's intimidation tactics in the court environment, engaged in so that defendants can be as rattled as possible before gracing the witness box.

"From a scientific point of view, it costs the police money to get their own lawyers to defend their own officer's behaviour. This, coupled with the public embarrasment factor, is a deterrent for abuse of police powers."

"We can only send our condolences to Tracey Twaddle, who I am sure doesn't think it is a game." Ms Twaddles husband, died in police custody in Palm Island last November from four broken ribs and a ruptured liver, where video surveillance only partially covered the police custody area.

By InJust Us posted 9 August 05

Related Comments:

From the Indymedia news wire:

Full story, please
by Vas Deferens Friday August 12, 2005 at 05:31 PM

On the one hand, the author is implicitly criticising the 'system' for discharging the defendant (the police officer) in this case. Yet on the other, she laments the lack of support and structure for defendants in the system. Oh, that must be unless the defendant is a cop. We can't have rights for everyone, I guess. She's right about AVOs having a seriously detrimental effect on police and others in the legal system. What a great tactic it is for defendants and their lawyers to hamstring law enforcement by bringing vexatious AVO complaints against the police. Little cost if they lose, big result for the crook if they win.

Please give us more facts about the above case. What was she charged with? Were there any corroborative injuries presented in evidence? Did she give sworn evidence and was she cross examined? More details please. You say it was over in a minute. Did she withdraw the application? If it proceeded, there is no way it could have been heard in a minute.

Give us the whole truth, not just the hyperbolic rant which shows your prejudice.

Keep up the good work
by Gregory Saturday August 13, 2005 at 04:43 PM

Hi Vas Deferens,

I guess if you followed the links you'd get the picture sure enough and in my opinion, what this person said was quite true.

Cops and a range of others can harass the community, use corporal punishment, inflict sexual assault, strip-search, plant evidence, verbal them, threaten them, place them in a dangerous situation, in a confined space or psychologically abuse them in custody just because they've been accused of some breach of the law. And some cops are truly arseholes. Personally I've had to tell one or two off myself at the Downing Centre during an AVO hearing that they should get a real job because these losers were bullies who used their power to intimidate, harass and victimise people! Were they on drugs? Well you'd have to ask them!

The AVO was brought on by a politician against her constituent that sought her help because he was being harassed by the police. Ring a bell? But these Surry Hills police were smarter than your average dumb cops so they got in first. So when the complainant's politician contacted the police to complain on behalf of her constituent the police told the politician that her constituent was dangerous and that she should avoid her constituent at all costs?

Hence the politician then took out an AVO against her constituent. I have the paperwork to prove it accept no tribunal will here it! And if you were a politician why wouldn't you believe the police over your constituent's concerns? Any person can have an AVO made out if they can prove they have a reasonable fear of another person. So I guess AVO's work for people who use them no matter who is in the right because right in not determined on whether there is a 'reasonable fear'.

Keep up the good work Teresa.

Assaulted, intimidated or harassed in custody?
By InJust Us Sunday August 14, 2005 at 12:41 PM

Thanks for your response and the questions you raise Vas. Yes I am highly critical of the AVO system, and yes I am highly critical of the magistrate dismissing the case within minutes without hearing sworn evidence and forensic evidence that proves injury, just because the defendant is a cop. Yes I am highly critical where most defendants in AVOs can't afford lawyers, yet when the defendant is a cop the public purse pays for his lawyer. I do not think this is in the public interest.

It wasn't a veracious application, Vas. Police are seasoned and cunning at abusing people in custody. That is one of the reasons why we had a Royal Commission and that is why the public purse pays for video cameras in police cells, and why in NSW we spent millions of dollars per year running a Police Integrity Commission and an Ombudsman's office and even a commission against Corruption. None of these things work in terms of accountability, I believe. You have to hold police accountable yourself by taking them to the courts. Problem is, like all abusive people, they're a bit sly and know how to assault people without leaving evidence, and know where there video surveillance isn't. Yes I agree with you that one of the problems with AVO's is that there is little cost if the applicant loses, and a big impact for the defendant if the AVO is made.

I was charged with knowingly contravening an AVO. I did have corroborative injuries but as the magistrate (unlawfully) wrote off my AVO application t the first available opportunity, I didn't get opportunity to present it. I gave sworn evidence and yes I was cross-examined.

I am going to privately prosecute NSW Police for doing this. I highly recommend anyone who has been assaulted or harassed in custody to do the same. Even though I feel your comment about prejudice is strange, please feel free to post more questions. If you want more info about my case please visit

PS: Can I ask what you do, Vas? Are you a cop?

The AVO experiment
By InJust Us posted posted 14 August 05

Apprehended Violence Order

.. are just an idea. No one can really stop you from doing anything. There are plenty of people with criminal records, especially from my generation eg: Baxter protests.

But I am still appealing.

When we come to power all of us in parliament/government will have criminal records. All it will mean is that we came from a climate that was interested in marginalising people as much as possible. If they create too many criminals they will get a large class of us fighting back.

I note that oppressive laws and legal climates such as the Family Law Act and Domestic Violence oppress and incriminate innocent people for about 15 years until the group gets too big and sick of it, so they lobby and fight back, then laws change..recent reform for ostracised Dads is a good example. Who does the state think it is treating Dads like that?

I don't have any kids but if the state took my kids off me I'd go ballistic. No wonder kidnappings happen in these cases.

The criminal system including Department of Corrective Services and including cops are bastards in these examples. They just warehouse people and try and make things worse. They are interested in extending criminality as much as possible.

I have every confidence the system couldn't give a hoot about the status of women and families and that AVOs are just a system of extending the criminal justice system. They are rent seekers. Without AVO legislation you would never have got someone like me in the back of a police van or in custody.

AVO legislation was introduced as an emergency measure because the police were not doing their job in regards to delivering the social contract to women and children. They still don't. Nothing has changed except more innocent people are in jails. Violent people become aware of AVO law they become very manipulative.

The modern condition is that you abuse someone and get in first, and get your victim in trouble.

Related Links:

I was in custody in NSW six weeks ago, and was a victim of an aggravated assault incited by a prison officer. Despite this happening in front of many witnesses, including correctional services officers and other detainees, and under mandatory video surveillance, a formal complaint to the NSW Commissioner of Corrective Services an his Professional Conduct Management Committee only revealed that as far as they were concerned, this didn't happen.

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