A DECORATED police officer has been found not guilty of intentionally and recklessly causing injury during an arrest near Swan Hill in 2011.
It took a jury 13 minutes to reach the unanimous verdict on Wednesday after a three-week trial involving more than 50 witnesses in the Bendigo County Court.
Senior Constable Danny Shaddock stood trial after he was alleged to have used an object to assault Daniel Barbary, then 22, while he was handcuffed on the ground – a charge Shaddock denied.
The incident occurred late at night on June 11, 2011, after two constables arrested Mr Barbary and three of his friends at gunpoint.
Mr Barbary had been spotted driving at high speed south of Swan Hill, and attempted to flee police with his headlights off while driving on rural laneways.
The four men were handcuffed and placed on the ground, before Shaddock arrived with three other officers.
Shaddock started walking Mr Barbary away from the others, but the court heard Mr Barbary stumbled and fell. He was unable to break his fall because of the handcuffs, and suffered bruising to both eyes, abrasions to his face and grazes to his knees.
A U-shaped bruise to his neck and swelling to the back of his head was the focus of the trial.
Mr Barbary claimed Shaddock hit him with an object at least six times while he was on the ground, and he was told to make up a story about falling while Shaddock walked him back to the police car.
Medical evidence was inconclusive however, and found the neck injury had faded in less than two days, while the head injury was unlikely to have been caused by a blow. The facial injuries could also have been caused by a fall, the court was told.
A different officer claimed he had walked Mr Barbary back to the police car, not Shaddock.
Christopher Winneke QC, acting for Shaddock, said there was a simple reason for the allegations – Mr Barbary was “absolutely petrified” of his father’s reaction to his driving offences.
His father – a Senior Sergeant with Victoria Police – had previously been in charge of the traffic division with Swan Hill Police.
Mr Winneke said Mr Barbary “concocted” the assault story, which his father took to ethical standards resulting in the investigation.
“One thing’s for certain, Daniel was very concerned about letting his father know what he was involved in,” he said.
“Once the complaint is made, the ball is rolling, and now we’re here.”
The other police officers at the scene did not see or hear the alleged assault, and the accounts of some witnesses – friends of Mr Barbary – had discrepancies between their statements and testimony.
Crown prosecutor Daryl Brown said Mr Barbary’s father would have found out about the driving offences regardless, and CCTV footage from the police station showed Shaddock nodding while Mr Barbary told another officer that his facial injuries were caused by “tripping on sticks”.
Mr Winneke said the footage was not proof that Shaddock had told Mr Barbary to make up a story.
Shaddock was acquitted of the charges of intentionally and recklessly causing injury.