Backpackers allege police brutality during Palm Cove arrest
ALLEGATIONS of police brutality have again arisen in the case of three backpackers convicted of assaulting two officers at a Palm Cove caravan park.
In March, a magistrate found Lewis Whiteside, Sally Summersgill and Stephan Jarrett guilty of assaulting and obstructing the policemen, and yesterday the verdicts were appealed in the Cairns District Court.
Whiteside, 22, served two months’ jail for kicking and punching Sgt David Harrold, while Summersgill’s one-month jail term for delivering numerous blows to the same officer’s shoulder was wholly suspended for a year.
Jarrett was fined for obstructing police during the incident on September 29 last year. Their barrister, Peter Feeney, argued during the trial his clients were the victims of unnecessary violence when Sgt Harrold and Constable Sebastian Ejneberg arrived at the park to investigate a disturbance.
He raised the allegations again on appeal, arguing the magistrate who convicted the trio had “fallen into error” on the assessment of the witnesses.
“Sgt Harrold arrives, within a short time he has been unpleasant to Ms Summersgill… and in view of witnesses, shoving Mr Whiteside,” Mr Feeney said.
“The evidence is plain enough, if (two key witnesses) are accepted, that Sgt Harrold commenced his dealings with Whiteside with what had to be an unlawful assault.
“The reality is it was a scene of violence.”
Mr Feeney also pointed towards evidence of Whiteside being Tasered while he was handcuffed and on the ground, and Summersgill being dumped on her head.
Judge Brian Harrison said he believed the sentence handed to 21-year-old Summersgill was manifestly excessive, noting she had a “shocking injury to the shoulder (and) she got punched in the face”.
The DPP is fighting the appeal, but prosecutor Bob English conceded Summersgill’s conviction may not have been warranted. The trio have since been deported to the UK, but have appealed against the convictions because they will limit future overseas travel and employment prospects.
Judge Harrison will hand down his decision on October 23.
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