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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

From the Courts

From the Courts

Terry Lewis O'Neil, 19, gardener's labourer pleaded not guilty recently before Mr Scully S.M. on a charge of inciting disorder.

For the prosecution. Constable Merrick stated that O'Neill was pushing and jumping up and down in a crowd that the police were trying to control, waving his arms above his head and shouting encouragement to the crowd. Constable Merrick was unable to recall the words used by O'Neil. Counsel for the defendant suggested that his client could have shouted "Leave the police alone for all you knew" Counsel also suggested that O'Neil could have merely been trying to see what was going on. Merrick denied this and stated that the defendant was having an obvious effect upon the crowd, although he could not give any example of this. Merrick admitted having arrested O'Neil before "a few times", but denied holding a grudge against him.

O'Neil stated that he had left a hotel with some friends and that the party was walking through the crowd to get to their car. He heard a man in front of him yell something and was suddenly grabbed from behind by Constable Merrick. Merrick escorted him to the police van without speaking to him apart from exclaiming "Not you again — here we go again". Terry O'Neil's statement was confirmed by two witnesses, his sister Deborah O'Neil and a housewife Pamela Scott. Both witnesses stated that the defendant had neither jumped, shouted or waved his arms. Both witnesses similarly stated that the police evidence was totally incorrect.

Summing up, counsel for the defendant pointed out that no disorder had been shown to have resulted from the incident. At no stage had there been resistance or physical involvement on the part of O'Neil The defendant had gone quietly and had not attempted to call on the crowd or cause disturbance during arrest.

Mr Scully took no time at all to deliberate the facts further. His final pronouncement was delivered rapidly, with a smile of satisfaction.

"The police evidence was said to be a lie. I'm in the position of deciding credibility, and, taking all matters into account I'm satisfied that the police evidence is correct". The smile lingered for a moment and then shut off completely.

"The duty of the police is getting more and more arduous — anyone getting in the way must be severely dealt with. Fined $100 and court costs".

It is a common practice among magistrates to be reluctant to consider that a policeman may have lied in court. Earlier this year in the case of Jesus Christ V. the Police, Mr Scully made a similar decision, with similar comments. In neither instance did he bother to explain the reason for his decision. Under our present legal system he is not required to.

By Don Franks

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