9 November 2023

Clare Nowland's children may see footage of alleged tasering before her death, civil court rules

| Albert McKnight
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Clare Nowland

Great-grandmother Clare Nowland died after allegedly being tasered by a police officer. Photo: Supplied.

Lawyers for the family of a 95-year-old woman who died after allegedly being tasered by police could not understand the state’s opposition to one of her daughter’s seeing footage related to her death, a civil court has heard.

Senior Constable Kristian James White allegedly tasered Clare Nowland at Cooma’s Yallambee Lodge on 17 May 2023. She reportedly fell and fractured her skull, dying a week later.

The senior constable has been charged and the allegations against him are still before the courts. A civil matter has since been filed by the great-grandmother’s family, stating they were suing the state of NSW.

An original statement of claim filed two days after the incident said the plaintiffs sought damages for trespass to the person, battery and negligence.

After she died on 24 May, an amended statement was brought by her son, Michael Nowland, seeking various relief on behalf of her estate.

There was a need to ensure the interests of justice were maintained for Constable White if there was to be a trial, the NSW District Court heard when the civil matter returned on Thursday (26 October).

READ ALSO Rozalia Spadafora inquest hears of ‘lost opportunities’ before five-year-old died at Canberra Hospital

Judge Matthew Dicker SC said it may be that an application will be made at some stage to delay or stay the civil proceedings pending the outcome of the criminal one.

The matter was back in court as Mr Nowland had asked for his sister, Lesley Lloyd, to be given access to body-worn camera footage taken by police during the incident in May. The state opposed this.

Peter Tierney, appearing for Ms Lloyd, said his team had some difficulty understanding why the police had “such strident opposition” to the daughter of a person who had died being able to view something relating to their death.

The footage had been provided to Mr Nowland’s lawyers for his review. Ms Lloyd wanted to give him support, particularly when he reviews it, and help with providing instructions to the lawyers.

Judge Dicker said the lawyers for the state had noted the footage was not in the public domain, and Ms Lloyd had not given police a statement for the prosecution of Constable White.

He said there was the potential for her to be a witness in those proceedings and the state was concerned her evidence could be contaminated if she viewed the footage, which could then affect the fairness of any trial.

The court did hear Ms Lloyd was willing to give a statement to police.

Judge Dicker said it had been argued that the lawyers for the family already had access to the footage, but he thought that submission failed to consider how lawyers needed instructions from their clients.

He also highlighted the importance of taking evidence as soon as possible while it was fresh in the minds of witnesses.

READ ALSO Faeces, cockroaches, broken glass and knives: mum sentenced for neglecting children

He ultimately found Ms Lloyd should be given some access to the footage, but also that it was desirable for time to be given for her to make a statement to police beforehand.

He allowed her to be given access from 4 December, although she is not allowed to disseminate it to others.

However, on the request of the state’s barrister, Raphael Perla, Judge Dicker then said his orders would be stayed for 28 days. Mr Perla had asked for the time to allow the state or any other interested party to appeal the orders.

The parties have already been ordered to participate in mediation by December.

If it is not appealed, the orders mean Ms Lloyd, Mr Nowland and their lawyer can view the footage.

“Mrs Lloyd was present in court today to hear the court’s decision in her favour,” her solicitor, Sam Tierney from Ken Cush & Associates, said.

“Mrs Lloyd would like to thank the court for its consideration of her application.”

Court documents have previously revealed details about the allegations involved in the criminal charges against Constable White, who made his first court appearance in September.

He has been handed charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and assault over the alleged incident and has been suspended from the police force with pay.

Original Article published by Albert McKnight on Riotact.

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