News State ACT News ‘Malicious’ prosecution of Canberra man who fled police leads to $30k in damages

‘Malicious’ prosecution of Canberra man who fled police leads to $30k in damages

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A Canberra man who was prosecuted after having a drink on Christmas Day has secured more than $30,000 in damages under the Human Rights Act.

Luke Marsh was arrested on Boxing Day 2012 after he attended a routine reporting appointment at the City Police Station.

On that day, having consumed alcohol on Christmas, two breath tests showed he was in breach of bail conditions.

Mr Marsh fled, grabbing his bicycle, before dropping it as he was pursued by a police officer.

He was caught and charged with harming the officer, who claimed Mr Marsh pushed the bike into him, injuring his legs.

CCTV footage later revealed that was not the case and the charges were eventually dropped.

That cleared the way for Mr Marsh to claim an unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution and that he was entitled to damages under the Human Rights Act.

Magistrate Bernadette Boss agreed, taking aim at the police officer involved, Senior Constable Paul Yates.

Senior Constable Yates denied he had a dislike for Mr Marsh.

But Dr Boss found “[Senior Constable Yates’s] attitude towards [Mr Marsh] appeared to be contemptuous and dismissive”.

“Senior Constable Yates was either wilfully blind to the discretion in relation to arrest on breach of bail conditions or failed in his duty to consider the matter,” she said.

“I am satisfied that Senior Constable Yates was well aware that Mr Marsh had not thrown or propelled the bicycle towards him.

“I am satisfied that Senior Constable Yates was primarily motivated by his dislike of Mr Marsh.”
Dr Boss found Mr Marsh was a poor witness with a long criminal history, but had been unfairly disadvantaged by the situation.

“Mr Marsh’s evidence was that he was angry and upset by the charge laid against him and it was clear that he suffered a sense of injustice,” she said.

Dr Boss ruled the arrest was improper and unlawful, that there had been a malicious prosecution and that the police involved should have dealt with the situation as a bail breach.

She awarded Mr Marsh $20,000 in aggravated damages, $10,000 for the unlawful arrest and $5,000 in exemplary damages for the malicious prosecution.

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