Three taser cops all out of ser­vice

The West Australian - - NEWS - Gabrielle Knowles

All three po­lice of­fi­cers who wrong­fully tasered and ar­rested a law pro­fes­sor and his wife a decade ago have now left the WA Po­lice Force af­ter the fi­nal two re­signed in re­cent weeks.

Con­fir­ma­tion that Si­mon Traynor and Peter James Clark had fol­lowed in the foot­steps of for­mer col­league Glenn Alexan­der Cald­well came af­ter WA’s high­est court threw out the last ap­peal against a dam­ages pay­out awarded to the cou­ple.

Aca­demic Robert Cun­ning­ham and his wife Catherine Atoms were help­ing strangers who fell into bushes out­side the Es­planade Ho­tel in Fre­man­tle in Novem­ber 2008 when they were tasered and ar­rested by po­lice who be­lieved they were caus­ing a dis­tur­bance.

The cou­ple sued the State and the of­fi­cers af­ter all of their ef­forts to hold them to ac­count failed — a po­lice in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion cleared them of wrong­do­ing and the Cor­rup­tion and Crime Com­mis­sion agreed with the out­come, re­fus­ing to in­sti­gate its own in­quiry de­spite crit­i­cism by its then par­lia­men­tary in­spec­tor.

In 2016 a Dis­trict Court judge awarded the cou­ple more than $1 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion, finding they were sub­jected to bat­tery and false im­pris­on­ment and were ma­li­ciously pros­e­cuted.

The bulk of dam­ages was awarded to Ms Atoms for loss of earn­ings and the dis­tress and back in­jury she suf­fered.

The judge de­scribed the be­hav­iour of the of­fi­cers, both on the night and while pros­e­cut­ing and tes­ti­fy­ing against the cou­ple, as “rep­re­hen­si­ble”.

The of­fi­cers were all or­dered to pay var­i­ous amounts per­son­ally as part of the judg­ment.

Po­lice and the State launched sep­a­rate ap­peals against the com­pen­sa­tion but the po­lice ap­peal was dis­missed in Au­gust last year .

Last month, the State lost its ar­gu­ment that it should not be li­able to pay be­cause the of­fi­cers in­volved acted ma­li­ciously and they should bear the costs.

Af­ter the judg­ment, At­tor­ney­Gen­eral John Quigley promised the dam­ages pay­ment could be fi­nalised be­fore Christ­mas.

It is un­der­stood the State could chase the for­mer of­fi­cers for some of the dam­ages pay­ment.

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