The opening of a civil case brought by a police constable who claims he was assaulted by his chief inspector was delayed Wednesday after an 11th-hour application from the officer for time to track down additional evidence.
Dennis Brady, representing constable Cardiff Robinson, said more time was needed to get documents from the Police Professional Standards Unit, which he said his client had been told would help his case.
Robinson claims he was assaulted on two occasions by Chief Inspector Frank Owens. Mr. Brady said his client had only recently learned of documents held by the PSU that would help his case, though he was unclear about what the documents contain.
According to a statement of claim filed in the case, Mr. Robinson alleges that Mr. Owens threw a “reasonably heavy” log book at him through the open door of a police car in June 2011. The constable also claims that Mr. Owens acted aggressively toward him, shouting and pointing his finger in his face, in a separate argument in February 2012.
In civil cases, assault is defined as an action that puts a person in threat of imminent bodily harm. Actual physical harm, which is not alleged in this case, is defined as battery.
Justice Richard Williams allowed a 24-hour delay in the case, saying Mr. Robinson’s lawyer would need to present a compelling case on Thursday morning to be allowed a longer adjournment.
He questioned why the application had not been made sooner and admonished the attorney for not providing his skeleton argument, as requested, in advance of Wednesday’s hearing. He instructed Mr. Brady to be ready to proceed Thursday, should his request for adjournment be refused.
“Not a free for all”
“This is not Magistrates Court. It is not a free for all,” he said.
“It has been fixed for four months and the Friday before the hearing is the first indication of an application to break the fixture.”
He said any further delays in the case would affect both Mr. Robinson and Mr. Owens, whose integrity was questioned.
“They are both in positions that demand and require respect. It undermines both of their positions, particularly if people [in the community] are talking about it without full knowledge of the case.
“They need to get on with their professional lives without it hanging over them.”
He said vacating the three-day trial slot would likely mean an adjournment of at least four months.
“There is prejudice on the defendant’s side this has been hanging over his head for years now. The statement of claim has been out there for three years – we have got to get on with it.”
He said Mr. Brady would need to prove the documents he sought were relevant.
“You can’t just say there is someone in a darkened alleyway somewhere who told me there are some documents. We have to know what they are and if they would affect the case.”
He said the details of the PSU’s investigation were largely irrelevant to the case before him, which he described as simple allegations of assault.
“I want to hear from the people who were there and saw what happened – it is a straightforward matter – one person’s word against the other, and whatever evidence they can bring. If it was a criminal case it would hardly be the case of the century.”