NSW Police is trying to stop Clare Nowland’s daughter from watching ‘confronting’ bodycam footage of the moment her mother was tasered as part of a civil case the family has brought against the state.
The 95-year-old grandmother died in hospital in May, a week after she was tasered by a NSW Police officer at the Yallambee Lodge aged care home in Cooma in the state’s south.
Officers were called to the facility on May 17 following reports Mrs Nowland, who had dementia, was wandering around holding kitchen knives.
Police allege Senior Constable Kristian James Samuel White asked Mrs Nowland to relinquish the knife several times before saying ‘bugger it’ and firing his stun gun at the dementia patient, who was using a walking frame.
Clare Nowland died after being tasered at a Cooma retirement home on May 19, with her daughter attempting to view to the bodycam footage of the moment Ms Nowland was fired upon as a part of the civil case the family launched against the state
She fell backwards and hit her head on the floor before later dying at Cooma Hospital on May 24.
Mrs Nowland’s family filed a civil case against the state of NSW for trespass to a person (assault and battery) and negligence on May 19, with her daughter Leslie Lloyd listed as the executor.
Since her death, Mrs Nowland’s son Michael Nowland is now listed as the executor of the estate and the plaintiff in the proceedings.
Her children, Leslie Lloyd, Michael and Dennis Nowland tuned into the proceedings via AVL when it was mentioned in the NSW District Court on Thursday.
The matter had previously been dealt with in Bega where media were unable to attend, but this week an application to override a decision made by a registrar was brought to the District Court in Sydney.
Peter Tierney, representing Mrs Lloyd, told the court that she was seeking to have view-only access as a ‘senior member of the family’ and to emotionally support her brother, as executor of the estate.
The grandmother was wandering around the Yallambee Lodge nursing home holding kitchen knives before she was asked to relinquish them by officers
Senior Constable Kristian James Samuel White, 33, allegedly said ‘bugger it’ before firing his taser at the 95-year-old dementia patient
Representing the state of NSW, Raphael Perla, opposed the application.
‘We have some difficulty understanding why the police are here in such a strident opposition to a daughter of the deceased being able to view something that related to the death of her mother,’ Mr Tierney told the court.
Judge Matthew Dicker SC told the court there was an ‘issue of balancing the desire to protect’ Constable White in the criminal proceedings while ensuring evidence in both cases was ‘most reliable’ and ‘not capable of criticism’.
Despite the concerns, the judge allowed lawyers representing the family to be allowed to show Mrs Lloyd and Mr Nowland the bodycam footage of the incident.
But Mrs Lloyd would not be allowed to view the footage until at least December to ensure she has enough time to give police a statement that could be used in the criminal proceedings.
Judge Dicker questioned why a statement hadn’t been taken despite the charges being laid in May.
Ms Nowland’s daughter will be able to view Senior Constable White’s (pictured, blue suit) bodycam footage in December after providing police with a statement
He told the court the six-week delay would be to ensure Mrs Lloyd’s statement and recollection of her mother’s condition was not ‘contaminated’ by her watching the video.
‘There were legitimate matters raised concerning the crucial importance in our society of a fair criminal trial,’ Judge Dicker said.
The judge ordered the state, and the NSW taxpayer, pay Mrs Lloyd’s costs of the application after the state unsuccessfully fought the application.
While the application was successful, Mr Perla asked for the judge to put a stay on the orders for 28 days to allow the state to file an appeal.
This means the state has 28 days to appeal against Judge Dicker’s decision, but if they don’t decide to, Mrs Lloyd will be able to view the footage in December after giving police a statement.
Mediation in the matter would take place sometime before December, the court was told.
Constable White, 33, is facing charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault over the alleged ‘excessive use of force’.
The case remains in the Local Court, with charge certification expected to happen in December.
Constable White has been suspended from duty with full pay.