A 51-year-old policeman has had his convictions overturned and faces a retrial on allegations he assaulted a woman as he arrested her at Spring in the Valley in 2009.
Mark Wayne Johnson, who has more than 30 years police experience, was last year fined $2000 and ordered to pay costs of $5000 after he was found guilty of three charges of common assault against Penelope Jane Challice, who was accused and later cleared of headbutting him when he arrested her at the Spring in the Valley festival in 2009.
Today, Justice Ralph Simmonds concluded an appeal launched by the officer by quashing his convictions and ordering that the $5000 he paid in costs also be set aside.
The case will be sent back to Magistrates court for a retrial.
A court spokesperson said that orders made by the appeal judge included that "The matter be remitted to the Magistrates Court for retrial."
Sen-Const. Johnson had been accused of holding Ms Challice by the wrists against a police vehicle and she claimed he also grabbed her around the throat, lifted her up and placed her on the ground.
Last August, Magistrate Peter Malone found the senior constable guilty of the three charges of common assault but found the actions were more appropriately described as “touches” and he rejected Ms Challice’s claims that she was “throat-slammed” by the officer.
He said the first offence was inappropriate and unlawful, the second was “totally unnecessary” and the third offence, where Johnson reacted after being struck in the nose, was unlawful.
However, the magistrate had granted Sen-Const. Johnson a spent conviction, accepting he was of previous good character, a well-regarded and loved member of the community and was unlikely to commit a similar offence in the future.
Sen-Const. Johnson was originally stood down but later given the all clear to resume full duties because he was deemed a dedicated officer despite a gross error of judgment.
The police union had called the decision a victory for common sense.
Ms Challice had been earlier cleared of headbutting the officer after a magistrate found the-then 19-year-old had been unlawfully arrested and that police evidence in the case as unreliable, implausible and lacking credibility.
Sen-Const. Johnson today welcomed the decision.
"It's a massive relief that it may be coming to an end," he said. The officer said he had been working back on the "frontline" over the last 12 months and hoped to continue to do so.
He said the incident had not changed his approach to policing but he would deal with the situation differently if it arose today.
"Every police officer has less than a second to make his mind up on what he has to do," he said. "You never know what your response is going to be unless you are in that situation."
"I certainly haven't changed my style of policing... but that situation I would definitely deal with differently," Sen-Const. Johnson said.
Police Union WA president George Tilbury said the trial should never have gone ahead against Sen-Const. Johnson in the first instance and should not be fought at a retrial.
"We don't believe that this matter should proceed and further," he said. "It's been going on now for four years, enough is enough and it needs to be put to bed."
"The force that was used is reasonable.""What needs to be said is that if an arrest is made by an officer and someone resists force needs to be used," Mr Tilbury said.