I WANT TO GET BACK TO WORK
Cop’s vow after not-guilty bash verdict
POLICE officer Matt McKinnar (above) is ready to return to work after being found not guilty of assaulting a British backpacker in a Cairns alleyway last year. His partner Constable Bret Chadwick who initially lied about what he saw that night faces an uncertain future with the service.
A CAIRNS police officer has vowed to return to work and “serve the community” after being found not guilty of assault.
A Cairns District Court jury took just over four hours to decide Constable Matt McKinnar, 42, did not do grievous bodily harm to British backpacker Leigh Baker while arresting him in a Sheridan St alleyway in April last year. Speaking exclusively to the
Cairns Post, Constable McKinnar paid tribute to those who have thrown their support behind him since he was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission last year.
“I’d like to thank my legal team, the Queensland Police Union and my colleagues within the Queensland Police Service who supported me, including a number of commissioned officers,” he said.
“But most of all I’d like to thank my beautiful partner who supported me throughout this ordeal and stood by me through all the sleepless nights.
“I just want to get back to work and serve the community.”
The court heard during the trial Constable McKinnar has dreams of joining the police dog squad and previously fostered several puppies before their training.
Constable McKinnar’s defence barrister Stephen Zillman argued throughout the four-day trial that his client had been acting in self defence when he punched 24-year-old Mr Baker three times.
The court heard the Englishman had initially been put under arrest by Sen-Constable Bret Chadwick after abusing security staff outside Gilligan’s nightclub on April 16.
He fled and hid in the alleyway, with Constable McKinnar pursuing him on foot.
The pair became involved in an altercation in the dark alley, with Mr Baker sustaining breaks to his jaw, cheek and eye socket.
He was not in court to hear yesterday’s decision, having returned to England after giving his evidence on Tuesday.
His version was supported by Constable McKinnar’s partner, Sen-Constable Chadwick, who said he witnessed the use of excessive force.
However, it emerged in court that Sen-Constable Chadwick had lied to investigators in an effort to protect his colleague.
It also emerged footage from his body-worn camera was missing and likely deleted.
Mr Zillman argued that the officer’s evidence could not be trusted, given previous lies.
The case initially seemed headed for a stalemate with the jury returning just before lunch to say they could not reach a decision. However, they delivered the not guilty verdict about 2.30pm to a packed public gallery with Constable McKinnar’s supporters breaking into tears.
Queensland Police Union Far North representative Sgt Marty Bristow applauded yesterday’s verdict.
“We stand by our members and support them 100 per cent when they are just trying to do their job to the best of their abilities.”
GAVE EVIDENCE: English backpacker Leigh Baker flew back to Cairns for the trial.