11 July 2023

Magistrate criticised police officer charged with tasering Clare Nowland for not attending court in person

| Gail Eastaway
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Media were out in force oat cmooima Court.

A media scrum formed outside Cooma Court House this morning to cover the case of a police officer facing serious offence charges relating to the death of a 95-year-old woman. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

A media scrum gathered at Cooma Local Court this morning to cover the initial court appearance of New South Wales police officer Senior Constable Kristian White, who is facing serious assault charges relating to the death of 95-year-old Clare Nowland.

Senior Constable White, attached to Monaro Police District, was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, actual assault causing grievous bodily harm and common assault after he allegedly tasered dementia patient Mrs Nowland at Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in May.

Police were called to Yallambee Hostel in Cooma at about 4 am on 17 May because she was allegedly carrying a steak knife. Police had tried to convince her to put down the knife. When she did not and approached a door near the police officers, Senior Constable White discharged his taser, allegedly striking Mrs Nowland and causing her to fall.

Mrs Nowland had been receiving end-of-life care in Cooma District Hospital after her skull was fractured in the fall, and it was announced she had died on the evening of 24 May at 7 pm.

Senior Constable White was suspended with pay.

The case was set for mention in court today (5 July). He was not present and his solicitor, Warwick Anderson, appeared via video link.

While there was a plethora of media present, the Nowland family did not attend court this morning. However, there was a heavy security presence outside the court, with bag searches and body scans being carried out by sheriff’s officers.

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Presiding Magistrate Clisdell was highly critical of the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for allowing Senior Constable White to appear by video link.

“No one asked me,” Magistrate Clisdell said. “We have gone to the trouble and expense of having security in place this morning for no reason.”

“Who runs this court?” he asked of DPP representative Ms Stewart, who also appeared via video link.

“I am not happy,” he continued. “In future, I will decide who appears on video link, not the DPP.”

“You can convey to whoever made this decision my absolute disgust.”

He dismissed the application for Senior Constable White to appear via video link.

Magistrate Clisdell was also critical of the DPP’s application for a non-publication order. He told the court he only had heavily redacted copies of the evidence so could not examine all the content.

However, he agreed to a non-publication order for the protection of witnesses, but not for five years as requested. This ordering is effective across all of Australia.

The case was adjourned until 6 September, when an initial brief service will be held using video link.

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Clare Nowland was a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The incident that led to her death shocked the local community and received worldwide media attention.

The township of Cooma and surrounding districts turned out in force to farewell Mrs Nowland, with several hundred mourners attending a Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Catholic Church on 13 June.

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