DPP defends decision to prosecute SA cop


The decision to prosecute an Adelaide policeman who was acquitted of assaulting a wealthy businessman has been defended by South Australia's Director of Public Prosecutions.

In an unusual move, Adam Kimber SC released a statement saying he had been aware that Constable Norman Hoy had been the subject of complaints by members of the public before the incident.

Last month, a District Court jury found Const Hoy, 59, not guilty of the aggravated assault of Yasser Shahin in September 2010.

Mr Shahin testified to being bullied and grabbed when he went to retrieve his keys from his Rolls-Royce after being pulled over because the window tinting was too dark.

But Const Hoy said he felt intimidated and threatened, and lawfully grabbed Mr Shahin when he did not comply with his direction not to re-enter the car.

After the verdict, Judge Paul Rice said it wasn't in the public interest to pursue the matter in the District Court.

He said the case should only have progressed in the magistrates court, with a less-serious charge, if it went ahead at all.

The SA Police Association also said the case should never have gone before a criminal court.

Mr Kimber on Wednesday said it was generally inappropriate for him to explain a decision to prosecute when a person had been acquitted, adding that the jury's verdict must be respected.

But in light of the continuing publicity, he had decided to provide information to give the community a "more complete perspective".

He had concluded that there was a reasonable prospect a jury could find Const Hoy did not have the power to do what he did.

He also had known of the previous complaints about Const Hoy, which were only publicly revealed by a newspaper after the verdict.

"Where a police officer has a good disciplinary record, proceeding by way of disciplinary proceedings alone where the alleged conduct is at the lower range of seriousness will sometimes be appropriate," he said.

"Where there have been previous complaints, a criminal charge might be appropriate. It is a consideration relevant to whether a criminal charge is in the public interest."

He said Const Hoy exercised his right to be tried in the District Court, rather than the magistrates court.