• Police tape restricts access to a crime scene (AAP)Source: AAP
The death of a man in Perth following a citizen's arrest is currently being investigated by the State's Coroners office.
By
Craig Quartermaine

Source:
NITV News
21 Sep 2015 - 5:18 PM  UPDATED 21 Sep 2015 - 6:42 PM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: The death of a man in Perth following a citizen's arrest is currently being investigated by the State's Coroners office.

RELATED STORY
WA family demand investigation into death during citizen's arrest
The family of a Noongar man who died during a citizen's arrest has called for an investigation into their uncle's death. While the details surrounding the incident are still being investigated the man's family is demanding answers about what happened.

The investigation will have important ramifications, discovering what caused the death of Mr Woods-Roberts, will determine whether or not, there's been yet another death in police custody in Western Australia.

Craig Quartermaine: The citizen's arrest occurred at the residence in Perth's eastern suburbs. Reportedly, after an attempted break and enter, the owner of the house apprehended one of two men and police arrived to find him being held in the front yard .

The man arrested was then taken to Swan District's hospital were he was later pronounced dead.

Currently the family is assessing its legal options.

So I spoke with Perth Criminal Lawyer John Hammond about the law surrounding citizen's arrest here in WA.

"If you were to cause a death in a citizen's arrest that wasn't lawful, and I emphasise wasn't lawful, then arguably you could face a charge of manslaughter"

John Hammond, lawyer: Well I suppose if you were to cause a death in a citizen's arrest that wasn't lawful, and I emphasise wasn't lawful, then arguably you could face a charge of manslaughter.

John Hammond is a respected legal expert in criminal cases.

Craig Quartermaine, WA correspondent: Can you tell me about when someone is able to perform a citizen's arrest?

John Hammond: The starting point is, it is lawful for someone on the street to arrest another person. You can only arrest someone if you have a reasonable belief that someone is committing an offence you can't arrest them otherwise. You have to be reasonable certain someone is committing an offence or is about to.

"You can only arrest someone if you have a reasonable belief that someone is committing an offence"

Craig Quartermaine: That sounds like it leaves a lot of grey area. Can you explain its ideal for someone to perform a citizen's arrest assured that somebody has committed a crime?

John Hammond: Well the ideal citizen's arrest, if there ever can be one, because this all assumes that we have cool and calm heads in a situation that's arguably a crisis - You tell the person 'I am arresting you, I am arresting you because you committed and offence and I am going to arrest you'. In that process you're also allowed to use reasonable force.

Craig Quartermaine: So what is reasonable force in a citizen's arrest?

John Hammond: Well the force has to be in measurement to the type of behaviour you're trying to restrain.

It wouldn't be reasonable to hit somebody over the head with a piece of wood if they are running away. I think it would be more reasonable to restrain somebody by the arms, for example, if they were trying to run away. The force you inflict must be reasonable, it can't be out of kilter.

"You could be depriving them of liberty and that is a serious offence"

Craig Quartermaine: What are some of the repercussions if you are found using too much force?

John Hammond: Well one of the dangers if you are found to have used too much force, if the arrest is not lawful, and you didn't have reasonable grounds for the suspicion of an offence, you could be found guilty of unlawful imprisonment, because you're not allowed to detain someone to be holding somebody against their will.

You could be depriving them of liberty and that is a serious offence.