Police cleared over flat fatality

Greg Caulfield

Greg Caulfield

RELATED: Death still raw for family

POLICE did not use excessive force when trying to arrest a Bendigo man who fell to his death, Deputy State Coroner Iain West has found.

Gregory John Caulfied, a father of two, died after falling from the ninth floor balcony of a Carlton housing commission block on November 16, 2011.  

Police had been trying to arrest Mr Caulfield, who was 34 at the time of his death, and had used capsicum spray.

Mr West found Mr Caulfield had been trying to evade police by climbing to a lower balcony when he fell.

“There is no doubt that entry to the flat (by police) was warranted and Greg’s arrest was justified,” he said in a written finding.

“As already noted, I do not regard the use of force on Greg as excessive in the circumstances.

“Whilst I accept that there was a lack of direction which allowed (his friend Jesse Ganes) to escape and that a warning before the spray would have benefited police present, I am unable to make a finding that the actions of police contributed to Greg’s death.”

Mr Caulfield was listed as living in Pyramid Hill but also resided at Kangaroo Flat. 

Mr West found aspects of four police officers' actions were not ideal, but were not inappropriate or fundamentally flawed.

Toxicology results detected methamphetamine and amphetamine in Mr Caulfield’s blood and urine.

Clonazepam, morphine and codeine were also detected.

The finding noted Mr Caulfield had had issues with drugs, including heroin and ice, and had a number of prior police matters. 

Mr West said there was no evidence to suggest Mr Caulfield had intended to take his own life. The finding also noted Bendigo police had attended a home three days before Mr Caulfield's death following reports had had assaulted an ex-partner.

Mr Caulfield had also been involved in an ice-fuelled armed robbery in St Kilda involving a metal pole the day before he died, the finding said. A hearing into the death was held over four days in July 2013. 

Iain West

Iain West

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