Police assault case verdict delayed in Vic

Caroline Schelle
Florian Hilgart (left), Brad McLeod and another officer wanted a magistrate to recuse herself

Three policemen accused of bashing a Melbourne pensioner have failed in a bid to make a magistrate step down from the case before she delivers the verdict.

Senior Constables Brad McLeod and Florian Hilgart, and Constable John Edney are all accused of unlawful assault charges.

The trio allegedly pepper-sprayed, punched and hosed down the pensioner, known as John, in his Preston front yard in 2017 after they were called to attend a welfare check.

Magistrate Cathy Lamble was set to deliver her verdict on Tuesday and sent lawyers copies of the decision the night before as a courtesy to help them prepare.

Instead, lawyers for McLeod and Hilgart told the magistrate they spotted an error in the judgment and wanted Ms Lamble to step down from the matters because of "apprehended bias".

They had argued it was "central" to the decision.

"I'm not prepared to entertain an application to recuse myself," Ms Lamble said in Heidelberg Magistrates Court.

"I didn't send the judgment to you so could have a look and see if you liked it. It wasn't a draft," she said.

While prosecutor Diana Manova agreed there had been a factual error about when Hilgart said "I've got everything off you mate", there was no need for Ms Lamble to step aside.

He supposedly said it after he sprayed John with the hose the third time, and not the second.

"To say that it's central is really drawing a very long bow," Ms Manova said of the error.

She argued it could be corrected.

After taking an hour to review the footage and the judgment Ms Lamble edited the decision, but did not change her mind on the verdict.

"To open the door to this argument undermines the effectiveness of the court system," Ms Lamble said.

Ms Lamble said she intended to find Hilgart and McLeod guilty, but did not say on which charges. They are accused of unlawful assault.

She did not tell the court whether she also intended to find Edney guilty.

The full verdict will be handed down on Friday.