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Win for anti-Covid tyranny protesters in court as judge blasts Victoria Police for ‘unlawful violence’

Charges have been dropped against two anti-lockdown protesters after a judge struck out crucial police evidence in a scathing judgement where she found officers had acted unlawfully and provided inaccurate statements.

County Court of Victoria Judge Elizabeth Gaynor on Tuesday found that Victoria Police written statements and bodycam footage showing a clash between officers and anti-Covid restriction protesters in the Melbourne CBD on May 29, 2021, were inadmissible to due “unlawful violence” used by police.

As a result the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped a series of charges against Nicholas Patterson and Adam Roob over the incident, which left Mr Patterson bleeding and requiring hospital treatment for a broken arm.

Mr Patterson was charged with intentionally cause injury, recklessly cause injury, assaulting an emergency worker on duty, common law assault and resisting an emergency worker on duty. Mr Roob was charged with assaulting an emergency worker on duty and common law assault.

Both claimed self defence, both of themselves of police violence, and of another member of their group, Jason Reeves, who was attacked by two officers as he walked ahead of his group. Mr Reeves also had charges over the incident withdrawn and his legal costs paid by police.

Police claimed they were acting to “prevent the continuation of an offence” – breaches of lockdown restrictions – but Judge Gaynor found that two officers used “immediate violence” when they had ample opportunity to issue infringement notices or make arrests during the preceding half hour.

“I am satisfied that in arresting Mr Reeves, police used unnecessary and unwarranted force and violence. Footage of the group’s walk in the half hour leading to the arrest revealed no behaviour which would give rise, in my view, to an apprehension that they would engage in violent behaviour,” she wrote.

“At the time he was confronted by police Mr Reeves was simply walking along. I accept as I have said that he was heading to his car to go home. While police may or may not have been aware of that fact, or accepted what was called out, if they did hear those words, I am satisfied that at the point of confrontation Mr Reeves was not protesting but was on his way to leave the scene.

“I am satisfied that he had breached the lockdown conditions but he was not displaying any behaviour, in my view, which justified what police then did.”

Judge Gaynor further found that two police officers were the aggressors, and that they employed “unjustified violence” upon Mr Reeves, which instigated the response by Mr Patterson and Mr Roob.

“They did not speak to [Mr Reeves] and inform him he was under arrest and then inform him why. They simply confronted, pushed, and attacked him before bringing him to the ground. In my view, they used unlawful violence in arresting Mr Reeves,” she wrote.

“I am also satisfied that the accused acted as they did in direct response to the unwarranted violence perpetrated on Mr Reeves which they first observed before taking action.

“As they ran forward the accused were met with physical intervention by other police members who sought to stop them and they fought back before being overpowered and brought to the ground and handcuffed.”

Judge Gaynor noted that the statements of one of the officers who attacked Mr Reeves, Acting Inspector Warren Chapman, was “disturbingly different to the scene revealed by police footage and containing no mention whatsoever of the two punches he clearly inflicted upon Mr Reeves”.

“I have read other police statements in relation to this confrontation and found them to be similarly inaccurate when compared to the body cam footage,” she found.

After the judgement Mark Gibson KC, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the DPP, announced the discontinuation of the prosecution.

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