Two West Australian policemen found guilty of assaulting an Aboriginal man by repeatedly tasering him in a lock-up have dodged an immediate jail term but may appeal against their convictions.
Aaron Grant Strahan, 45, and Troy Gregory Tomlin, 34, were on Wednesday given suspended jail terms and fined after being convicted in Perth Magistrates Court of unlawfully assaulting Kevin John Spratt on August 31, 2008.
CCTV footage showed Mr Spratt crying out as the constables tasered him nine times in just over a minute after he refused to be strip-searched in the East Perth watch house.
Magistrate Richard Bromfield ruled on Tuesday that Tomlin was guilty of all three charges he faced, while Strahan was guilty of three charges and acquitted of a fourth.
While defence lawyer Karen Vernon had asked the magistrate to impose a good behaviour bond or a fine, Mr Bromfield said imprisonment was the only appropriate sentence.
Tomlin was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for six months, and a $3800 fine.
Strahan was also given an eight-month jail term, suspended for six months, plus a $3250 fine.
A spokeswoman for WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said one or both of the officers were considering appealing their convictions.
Tomlin and Strahan declined to comment outside court.
The WA Police Union said it was shocked and disappointed by the verdict, labelling the sentences "manifestly unjust".
"Today's outcome will strike fear into the minds of every police officer who carries a taser," union president George Tilbury said.
"Tasers were brought in to provide another less than lethal force option and prevent injury to police officers and others.
"This incident is a case in point, as no one was injured.
"However, officers are now faced with the prospect of criminal convictions clouding their decision if they use their taser."
While the defence had argued the policemen's actions were justifiable because Mr Spratt was uncontrollable, the court heard from an expert witness that police were instructed not to use the devices for the purposes of ensuring compliance.
Tomlin and Strahan face losing their jobs if the convictions stand.
Strahan is still performing operational duties for the WA police, while Tomlin is now a police auxiliary officer.
Both were formerly senior constables.
Magistrate Bromfield described their actions as "a gross error of judgment" and "persistent and repetitive assaults" on a vulnerable victim in custody.
He rejected a suggestion from Ms Vernon that Mr Spratt could have been screaming in joy during the assault as "fanciful", instead describing his utterances as loud and protracted cries of anguish.
And while Mr Spratt had been intoxicated and unco-operative before the assault, his struggling during the incident was an understandable response as the tasers were clearly causing him discomfort.
"No reasonable person could view that footage without being disturbed," Magistrate Bromfield said.
"He was in custody. He could not flee from either of you. He was in an extremely vulnerable position."
Mr Spratt is submitting an application to WA Attorney General Michael Mischin for an ex-gratia compensation payment and is also considering civil proceedings against the officers.