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  • Brothers awarded $2.1m after 14 years fight against police
  • By Kate Hagan and Karen Kissane
  • The Age - AAP
  • 20/12/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
IT BEGAN with the curious incident of the scream in the night — a scream that never happened, as it turns out. It went on to include the breaking of a man's ribs, as well as the dislocation of a frail old woman's shoulder and the smashing of her walking cane — all by police.

Two brothers who have pursued their claims through the Supreme Court for 14 long years had a victory yesterday when Justice Tim Smith awarded them $2.1 million damages following an assault by two officers in a Surrey Hills apartment in 1993.

Donald Walker claimed he was assaulted when trying to go to the aid of his mother. She had a muscle-wasting condition that made her wobbly on her feet, and tripped when a police officer shone a torch in her face.

When Mr Walker tried to help her, he was put in a headlock and beaten with a baton to force him to the ground. He was left with two broken ribs and extensive bruising.

The judge said Donald and his brother Marcus had shown extraordinary determination in pursuing their claims. "It is plain that the events of that night, and their pursuit of what they see as a just outcome, has dominated their lives for years … They were on a mission."

The judge found that police officers Graeme Carter and Mark Sesin lied about the incident. "Both created false accounts of significant parts of their evidence," he said.

He accepted the evidence of Carter that this was the most violent incident he had been involved in as a policeman. "But he was either lying or failed to perceive and understand that the violence came overwhelmingly from him and, to a lesser extent, from Sesin."

Donald Walker received $1.2 million for physical and psychological injuries and lost earnings. Marcus Walker, who did not witness the assault but attended shortly afterwards and found his mother and brother injured, received $843,000.

The brothers, now 57 and 55, also received $100,000 on behalf of their late mother, Marcia. The payouts may rise even further because Justice Smith said they could put further submissions to him about aggravated and exemplary damages.

Victoria Police yesterday said it would consider an appeal. Graeme Carter is a detective senior constable. Sesin left the force a year after the assault.

The incident began just after midnight when police were called to a "domestic". A woman had phoned to say she was concerned about her friend, Ruth Hamm, at Donald Walker's unit.

Walker, then an insurance agent, had hosted a party earlier, but it was just the two of them when Constables Carter and Sesin knocked on the door.

The police later claimed that a man refused to let them in. They also said they heard screams of distress from a woman.

Constable Carter kicked the door in and pushed Walker against a wall, causing a picture to fall and its glass frame to shatter. Sesin took Ms Hamm into the kitchen and spoke to her. He later claimed she told him that Walker had threatened her with a knife.

Walker's mother Marcia, who lived in an adjoining unit, hobbled in on a walking stick. She was 67 at the time. The police asked her to go outside, but she would not, so Carter approached her and shone a torch in her eyes. Donald Walker told him: "Get that torch out of my mother's eyes".

Walker moved towards Carter. Sesin, standing between Walker and Carter, put Walker in a headlock. Walker struggled, striking Sesin in the face.

Sesin hit Walker with his baton and Carter joined in, one of his blows probably fracturing one of Walker's ribs. Walker fell to the ground, where the blows continued. Another of his ribs was fractured, possibly by Carter's knee slamming into his back as he hit the floor.

The judge found there had been no scream as the police came to the door, that Ms Hamm did not report a threat with a knife, and that it was Carter who initiated any physical action. He, not Walker, was "extremely violent". With


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