Man claims strip search planned in CCTV area
A MAN accused of resisting arrest inside Geelong police station claims officers acted unlawfully during the incident.
Vince Saraceno, 24, faced Geelong Magistrates’ Court yesterday to contest a charge of resisting an emergency worker on duty. If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of five years’ jail.
The court heard Mr Saraceno was taken into custody inside Geelong Magistrates’ Court on May 16 over family violence matters before being taken to the police station.
At the station, it is alleged Mr Saraceno became aggressive when custody officers told him they would need to perform a strip search before he was placed in a cell.
A custody supervisor gave evidence in court yesterday that Mr Saraceno made repeated threats to officers that he was “going to put (them) all in hospital”.
Closed circuit television footage from the police station was played to the court, showing Mr Saraceno removing a shirt and shoes before walking towards one custody officer.
He is then seen being pushed into a wall and pinned to the ground by five custody staff.
Mr Saraceno was later taken to Geelong hospital.
While the prosecution alleges the defendant resisted an attempt to arrest him, his lawyer argues police and the custodial workers were acting beyond their lawful duties.
Defence barrister Angela Sharpley claims officers used excessive force in detaining Mr Saraceno and that they did not have the authority to perform a strip search on him and take him to the ground. The court heard the strip search was to be performed in a room covered by a CCTV camera, which was normal practice for the station.
At the time Mr Saraceno was to be searched, six police and custody officers were standing in the room, while its door was also open.
Under cross-examination, Geelong police Sergeant Steve Bull, who was supervising the custody area on the day of the incident, acknowledged the process was not as private as it could be.
But he said other considerations needed to be taken into account, particularly the safety of workers in the police station.
“I didn’t know if he had any contraband on him,” Sgt Bull said.
The hearing before magistrate Ann McGarvie will return to court next month.