Two South Australian police officers will continue to be prosecuted for assaulting a 17-year-old boy on the Eyre Peninsula in 2013, after the state’s top judge found the investigation was legal.
In 2017, the Whyalla policemen – Senior Constable Andrew Allen Jaunay and Constable Sean Gregory Hobbs (both pictured above, with Jaunay to the left) – were charged with the aggravated assault of Mathew Odgers on Panter Street, Whyalla, in October 2013.
The officers sought to avoid facing trial for the alleged assault based on a legal technicality – and had initally been successful.
In February 2019, Magistrate Brett Dixon permanently placed the prosecution on hold because he determined the investigation was tainted by evidence “obtained and used contrary to the law”.
But last week the Full Court of the Supreme Court reversed that decision.
South Australian Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said there was “no illegality connected with the investigation or prosecution of the offences and no grounds on which the proceedings should be stayed”.
“There is strong public interest in the prosecution of offences generally and in deterring abuse by officers of SA Police of their positions of authority,” he said.
He then set aside the decision of Magistrate Dixon.
Chief Justice Kourakis said it will be alleged that Senior Constable Jaunay struck the boy “with an open palm on the left cheek, knocking him to the ground”.
“When his mother rang, the police allowed Mathew to answer and he asked her to hurry up and pick him up. He was then pushed to the ground by another officer who held him around his throat,” he said.
He said Senior Constable Jaunay allegedly spoke of “hunting Mathew down” — which he recorded on his mobile phone.
The alleged incident has been the subject of investigations by police’s Internal Investigation Section (IIS), Police Ombudsman, Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
When delivering his decision, Magistrate Dixon said the provision of affidavits by the two officers to the ICAC breached secrecy provisions contained in laws that covered the internal investigation of South Australian police officers.
“To place the defendants in the position where they are asked to make statements about their involvement in an incident that could lead to criminal charges against them, under threat of disciplinary proceedings if they refuse, is unfair,” he said in February 2019.
But Chief Justice Kourakis found the lead investigator “requested, and did not direct, that Senior Constable Jaunay and Constable Hobbs provide affidavits”.
A new court date is yet to be set for the two police officers.