Bungled police response leaves DV victim behind bars

PIAC has commenced proceedings against NSW police and corrective services over the mishandling of a domestic violence case that saw a victim held in custody for failing to appear in court as a witness against her former partner.

Sarah* was 26 years old and living with her two young children when her former partner, Daniel* broke into her home and violently assaulted her.

Police subsequently charged him with damage to property, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and entering a dwelling with intent to cause harm.

However, after Sarah failed to appear at Daniel’s trial because he had made threats against her, it was Sarah who ended up behind bars. Sarah was arrested by police for failing to attend court, and held in detention overnight.

‘This case raises real questions about the handling by police of domestic violence cases,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

‘When women are willing to give evidence against a violent ex-partner they should be given every support to testify.

‘It’s NSW Police policy to only seek a warrant for the arrest of an alleged domestic violence victim in exceptional circumstances. It’s not clear what could possibly have justified arrest and detention here.

‘The case is another reminder of the need for an effective and well-resourced Law Enforcement Conduct Commission to ensure proper oversight of police conduct,’ added Jonathon Hunyor.

*Names have been changed to protect our client’s privacy.

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