- University student sues Yarra Trams after ticket inspectors pinned him down
- By Tom Cowie
- 22/12/2015 Make a Comment
- Contributed by: Julian ( 1 article in 2015 )
FORCIBLY DETAINED STUDENT SUING YARRA TRAMS
A university student is suing Yarra Trams, alleging he was forcibly pinned down by multiple ticket inspectors.
A university student is suing Yarra Trams, alleging that he was forcibly pinned down by multiple ticket inspectors, including one who pressed their knee on to his throat to detain him.
Docklands man Cheng Liu, also known as Michael, was allegedly thrown to the ground and handcuffed by the ticket inspectors at a Swanston Street tram stop on October 30, 2013.
The 23-year-old alleges that when the inspector placed a knee across his throat, they refused to remove it. The incident was filmed by another commuter on their mobile phone, in which Mr Liu can be heard shouting that he cannot breathe. A ticket inspector asks him to stop moving.
In documents lodged in the Supreme Court on Monday, Mr Liu is suing Yarra Trams for physical force that was grossly excessive, as well as assault and battery.
Mr Liu told Fairfax Media that while he made a mistake not having a ticket, he did not expect the subsequent reaction from the ticket inspectors.
"I was in huge financial stress, I had barely enough money for accommodation. I said: 'If I pay you the fare I can't pay for food'," he said.
"I basically forgot to validate my ticket and I ended up with someone's foot on my neck."
Mr Liu is also arguing that the inspectors ignored his pleas for mercy and failed to implement recommendations made by the Victorian Ombudsman in relation to issuing public transport fines.
A spokesperson for Yarra Trams said it was inappropriate to comment while the case was before the court.
Mr Lui said that since the incident, he found it hard to trust people and did not like to take public transport for work or to study at the University of Melbourne.
He said that his academic performance had deteriorated after the incident.
"They treated me like a criminal, it was like the secret service Gestapo stuff," he said.
"They were quite aggressive; even police shouldn't be doing that. I'm just really angry at the whole thing.
"I was really scared, I honestly could not breathe."
Maurice Blackburn's Dimi Ioannou said Mr Lui now suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.
In the court documents, Mr Liu said he was also suffering from depression, impaired sleep and shock and anxiety.
Ms Ioannou said the case had broader implication for other public transport users, who "needed to be protected from such violence at the hands of ticket inspectors".
"Inspectors must know the difference between restraint and excessive force and appreciate that they don't have the same powers as Victoria Police," she said.
The writ was filed against Yarra Trams by Maurice Blackburn in the Supreme Court on Monday.