Nothing Exceptional

This week in Wollongong Local Court, Magistrate Michael Stoddart refused to order that the prosecution pay the legal costs of a man who Police had bought an AVO against only to have it dismissed after they couldn’t get any evidence or information from the Police.

The AVO had been bought by Police who had been convinced in January 2012 by the man’s estranged mother-in-law that his step children needed protection from him. Despite the children being interviewed by Police and the matter apparently being investigated, no charges were laid and no evidence provided in relation to the AVO. Three months of trying to defend his name and reputation later, the Court dismissed the AVO because the Police had no instructions or evidence and could not take the matter further.

In my opinion, it is proper that in cases such as this, the Police pay the costs that they have put a private citizen to. In this case, Magistrate Stoddart judged that nothing in the conduct of Police was improper or unreasonable nor was the case in any way exceptional and so declined to order that Police have to pay the costs.

That a person can be put to enormous financial expense by Police only to have the whole thing dismissed is bad enough. That a court could think such circumstances might not be exceptional is even worse.

Aaron Kernaghan.