- It's OK to tell police officers to 'f*ck off'
- By ROANNE JOHNSON
- 06/08/2010 Make a Comment
- Contributed by: Bruce_Wagner ( 1 article in 2010 )
» Officers pour out woman's drink
» Boyfriend tells cop to "f*ck off"
» Cops "quite immune to the words"
A QUEENSLAND magistrate has ruled that it is acceptable for people to tell police officers to "f*ck off".
Magistrate Peter Smid yesterday threw out the court case against Mundingburra man Bardon Kaitira, 28, who swore at a female officer outside the Consortium night club on December 20, last year at 2.40am, The Townsville Bulletin reports.
Constable Belinda Young gave evidence that Mr Kaitira used the swear word twice towards her after a group of officers patrolling Flinders St East poured out his girlfriend's drink.
"The defendant said 'f*ck off' and starting walking away and I asked: 'What did you say?'," she said.
"He said 'f*ck off" again and then said: 'I don't like the police you think you are all heroes'.
"I told him it was an offence to swear at an officer and gave him two choices - a fine or be arrested."
Mr Kaitira opted to be put in handcuffs and taken to the watch house.
After winning the landmark case he explained outside court why he pleaded not guilty - despite admitting to swearing at Constable Young.
"On the night it was completely over the top and I didn't think it was fair," Mr Kaitira said.
"Most people just cop a fine but I didn't want to do that."
The defendant instead read through hundreds of similar legal cases before employing a leading criminal barrister and a solicitor to take on his public nuisance case at a cost of $4622.11.
It was worth it for the horticulturist as Magistrate Smid said he was not satisfied Mr Kaitira committed an offence and police could be liable for his legal bills.
"The defendant spoke normally, he had his hands in his pockets and walked away," Magistrate Smid said.
"It's not the most polite way of speaking but those who walk the beat would be quiet immune to the words."
The magistrate said overall the conduct of the defendant was not a nuisance to the public because it didn't interfere with fellow night club goers.
"It was overkill by the officer who was not offended anyway," Mr Smid said.
"But she pursued him clearly annoyed he hadn't shown remorse."
Defence barrister Justin Greggery said the case was "doomed to fail" from the start, arguing that saying the f-word to police was "not an offence".
"It was simply f*ck off - a common enough expression which wasn't descriptive like f*ck you or you f*ck," he said.
"Really the word has lost its affect due to its use in books, films, and general speech."
Mr Greggery added that police were trying to criminalise language, which set a dangerous precedent.
"When they try to set the bar this low they are saying the word f*ck is criminal conduct," he said.
"This is language they use themselves on the job (while arresting offenders and to other officers)."
However, police prosecutor Sergeant Richard Scholl argued Mr Kaitira's code of conduct was offensive and stinging towards the policewoman.
"He displayed behaviour and made jibes with the intention to insult. Police should be shielded from this type of language and the community cannot accept it's OK for a private citizen to tell police to f*** off," he said.
Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers agreed and called for an urgent appeal of the case, which could set a precedent in Queensland law.
"It is a sad day when the courts and government say it is OK to use four letter words at police," he said.
"To say it's OK to use offensive language at police in the street, who are just doing their job makes, no sense at all."
Mr Smid will decide today whether the Queensland Police Service will cover Mr Kaitira's legal bills, which legal counsel later reduced to $2527.50 after a successful outcome.
By law the maximum amount that can be reimbursed is $1500.
The case follows that of Sydney student Henry Grech, who was cleared in May of an offensive language charge against police after a local court magistrate ruled the word "prick" was part of every-day speech.