The family of an Aboriginal man who was gave evidence in court that he was bashed at a northern New South Wales police station have called for more Indigenous people on juries, and more security camera’s to be installed at police stations following the acquittal of the police officers who were charged with assaulting him.
CCTV footage from inside Ballina police station in 2011 appears to show Dunghutti and Bundjalung man Corey Barker being thrown to the ground, kicked, and dragged along the floor by officers.
The six policemen involved were last week cleared of various charges, including perjury, assault and doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.
Then-Senior Constable Mark Woolven, 45 and Sergeant Robert Campbell McCubben, 49, were cleared of perjury and trying to pervert the course of justice and, while Senior Constable David Hill, 36, Constables Ryan Charles Eckersley, 36, and Luke Christopher Mewing, 31, along with Probationary Constable Lee David Walmsley, 26 were found not guilty of their various charges, including assault.
“I’m disappointed, I'm actually pretty emotional about it at the moment, very gutted, I just don't think that it's fair in any case or any word,” Corey’s mum Angelique Sines told NITV News.
“But we’re not surprised the verdict came back the way it did."
Corey Barker's father, Jason Sines, has questioned whether a lack of Indigenous representation on the jury played a part in the not-guilty verdict.
“When police are dealing with minority groups in a court situation like Corey's case, we've gotta have a fair percentage of Aboriginal people or that minority group on the jury panel and not just a majority (of) non-Indigenous people,” Jason Sines said.
"Like with Corey’s case we’ve got an Aboriginal man up in court against the police and we’ve got a jury that’s made up of white Australians that probably have no positive or negative or any sort of interaction with Aboriginal people so I think that has to change," he said.
“And if we don't change that as a country we're gonna still have these stories, and we're gonna still have deaths in custody, and we're gonna still have bad relationships between police and minority groups in Australia.”
Corey Barker found himself in custody after witnessing an altercation between police and a young woman on the streets of Ballina.
Mr Barker got his phone out to start filming the incident, but before he could start recording he said he was tackled to the ground from behind by another officer, punched, and taken to the police station.
Each officer's statement, read to the court, said Mr Barker had been yelling abuse and threats, and punching and kicking the walls of the perspex dock where he was initially held.
His family remember this as the start of a six year battle, and a terrible night in custody for Corey.
“He was in a bad way, he had lumps on his head, and he had grazes on one of his hips, and marks on his body, his shoulder of course he couldn't move his shoulder very well because it was ripped off the chest wall and he had to have a whole heap of scans and things and work very hard on that to get it back to where it is now,” Corey’s mum remembered.
“It’s affected us all mentally.”
During the court hearing Angelique said supporters of the officers involved were calling Corey "scum" and mumbling other derogatory comments under their breath."
"I actually had to go out and ask for them to be spoken to and told to stop," she said.
"I would never have said anything like that about the officers."
The acquittal of the officers comes after the Police Integrity Commission found the officers had lied about the incident, and tampered with the CCTV footage, which later had to be repaired.
But those findings were ruled inadmissible during the court hearing that found the policemen not-guilty, something Corey’s family expressed disappointment with.
“Well in the court case they weren’t allowed to disclose that all the officers were a part of the Police Integrity Commission investigation because that was admitted from the court hearing, the injuries to Corey that also wasn’t allowed to be discussed in the court case…the reason why they said was because the officers have to live in the community," Jason Sines said.
“Leaving out key information like that and not making it a fair level playing field for the hearing well it puts Corey's case behind the blackboard from the start."
The District Court jury had been shown CCTV footage that appeared to show Mr Barker being assaulted by officers as he was moved from a dock to a cell.
The footage, which the defence claimed did not show all of the events because it had been recorded on a delayed-capture mode, did not show Mr Barker punching Mr Hill.
Mr Barker was charged with assaulting the officer in 2011 but the case was thrown out.
The PIC later found he had never attempted to punch Mr Hill.
After Corey was dragged along the floor at the front of the police station in 2011, he was taken to a cell at the back of the station.
His mum has called for camera's to be put in that section too, so nothing can happen behind the scenes.
"I just believe that although we have the footage of what happened at the front, there is also back cells and he got hit out in the back cells as well and there’s no cameras to tell us what happened in the back cells," she said.
"Having cameras in the back cells is crucial after what happened to Corey and also with all of the story's we've heard from other people that we've talked to since this has happened to Corey.
"Cameras need to be in the back cells as well as in the main police building, and that could also help police as well," she reiterated.
The six year battle has left a terrible legacy with the family, but Corey Barker is trying to move forward.
"He is going to university now and he's tyring to do psychology so he can help other people who may have experienced this sort of thing, so that's a really positive thing for him but it's taken him a long time," Angelique Sines said.
The family added they hope government considers their plea for more Indigenous representation on jury's and more cameras in police stations, so other families don't have to go through what the they did.