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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 19 July 2006 – 28 June 2007 Investigation into alleged police assault of Aurukun resident — 07.02.2007
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 19 July 2006 – 28 June 2007 Investigation into alleged police assault of Aurukun resident — 07.02.2007
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 19 July 2006 – 28 June 2007 Investigation into alleged police assault of Aurukun resident — 07.02.2007

Investigation into alleged police assault of Aurukun resident — 07.02.2007

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has finalised its report into Warren Bell’s complaint that he was assaulted by police following his arrest in January this year.

CMC Assistant Commissioner, Misconduct, Stephen Lambrides has travelled to Aurukun to meet with senior members of the Indigenous community to discuss the outcome of the report.

The investigation, conducted jointly with the Ethical Standards Command of the Queensland Police Service, makes no adverse finding against any police officer involved in the arrest of Warren Bell.

The only direct evidence of the alleged assault is the evidence of Bell himself. However, there are significant inconsistencies in the accounts given by Bell of his treatment while in police custody, which suggest that it would be unsafe to rely on his evidence without information from other sources to support it.

Bell gives varying accounts of what happened after he was arrested. He is unclear about the time he was assaulted, how many officers assaulted him, who assaulted him, how many times he was hit, whether he was kicked, and the nature of his injuries.

Evidence that could possibly provide some corroboration of Bell’s allegation is a lump on his forehead, a seizure in the cell, some blood and vomit in the cell, and statements by several people that he had no injury, or they did not notice any injury, before his arrest. All this is challenged by the medical evidence, the forensic examination of the cell and of the clothes worn by the police, and Bell’s own account about how he received his injury.

Bell told at least six people that he had been hit on the head by a bicycle rim thrown by his brother the previous Saturday.

A videotaped police interview shows Bell explaining that his brother hit him with the bicycle part during a fight, and that this caused the lump and bruise on his forehead. He gave the same explanation to the two community police officers at Aurukun, the doctor and nurse who treated him at Aurukun Health Clinic, and the doctor who treated him at Cairns Base Hospital.

However, after speaking to a member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group on the day of his arrest, Bell claimed he was assaulted by police in the watch-house cell.

Both treating doctors separately concluded that the injury to Bell’s forehead was three to four days old and consistent with being hit the previous Saturday by his brother.

Other possible corroborating evidence of Bell’s allegation is his persistent vomiting and his seizure. However, the two doctors who treated Bell provided explanations for both, unrelated to any alleged assault.

Given that the only independent evidence to corroborate Bell’s allegation is challenged by the medical evidence, the forensic examination (which found no blood splatters in the cell consistent with someone being assaulted or any signs of blood on the police officers’ clothing), and Bell’s own account of how he received the injury, the CMC concludes that there is no ground for referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for possible criminal charges.

While the CMC makes no adverse findings against any police officer in relation to an assault, it does, however, refer its report to the Queensland Police Service for consideration of disciplinary action in relation to the failure of police to videotape Bell in his cell at Aurukun Police Station on the morning of the arrest.


Media inquiries:
Stephen Dalziel – Communications Officer (Media)
Ph:  07 3360 6344          Mobile:  0407 373 803          Fax:  3360 6235

Last updated: 07 December 2011

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