Bid to have Spratt charges thrown out
Mal Cooke and Kevin Spratt. File Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Update: A lawyer defending two WA Police officers accused of assaulting Kevin Spratt seven times with Tasers has had a bid to have most of the charges thrown out dismissed.

Police Union lawyer Karen Vernon was this morning unwilling to concede CCTV footage of the incident depicted Mr Spratt crying out in pain, saying “I cannot say whether it was in joy or laughter”.

During an hour-long “no-case” submission to Magistrate Richard Bromfield, Ms Vernon said everybody reacted to pain in different ways and there had been no evidence shown to the court on how Mr Spratt reacted to pain.

Mr Spratt earlier told the Perth Magistrates Court trial that he had no memory of the incident on August 31, 2008.

Sgt Aaron Grant Strahan is facing four counts of common assault and Troy Gregory Tomlin – then a senior sergeant stationed at Perth Watch House but now a police auxiliary officer – is facing three counts.

Ms Vernon submitted that there was no case for Sgt Strahan to answer on the second, third and fourth counts and no case for Mr Tomlin to answer on his second and third.

The defence lawyer submitted the prosecution had not provided enough evidence capable of proving beyond reasonable doubt certain elements of the charges, including that contact with a Taser had been made on Mr Spratt and for the duration of time particularised in the charges.

Ms Vernon said none of the police witnesses present at the watch house, where the assaults were alleged to have occurred, had been able to give specific details of any contact beyond testifying that Mr Tomlin initially used his Taser on Mr Spratt, and Sgt Strahan did later.

Ms Vernon said prosecutor James Mactaggart had contended in his opening statement that audio on the footage clearly proved Mr Spratt had been in pain, but she said this was an “assumption”.

Mr Bromfield asked Ms Vernon whether she accepted there was the sound of a Taser followed by someone “screaming in anguish”, the defence lawyer would only accept that it was a “human sound”.

“I cannot say whether it was in joy or laughter,” she said.

Mr Bromfield said he was content to use the adjective “scream”.

Ms Vernon said Mr Spratt could have been reacting to officers grabbing his arms and legs to restrain him during the struggle in the watch house reception area, rather than to a Taser.

The trial continues.

The West Australian

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