Friday, September 16, 2011

Constable Barry John Donnelly and State of Queensland to pay Renee Eaves, 35, damages for harrassment, intimidation

A QUEENSLAND traffic policeman and the State Government have been ordered to the pay a former model $93,000 in damages for harassment and intimidation more than five years ago.

Brisbane District Court judge Nick Samios ordered Constable Barry John Donnelly and the State of Queensland pay Renee Terri Eaves, 35, damages after she was arrested and falsely imprisoned amid allegations she drove while disqualified on March 16, 2009.

Judge Samios, in a 21-page written judgment, said he accepted Constable Donnelly demonstrated he "did not like'' Ms Eaves, then more than four months pregnant, when he led her away in handcuffs past fellow residents at her Vernon Tce apartments at Teneriffe.

Ms Eaves was seeking $200,000 in damages after she claimed Constable Donnelly arrested her despite her protestations that her partner had driven from the Royal Brisbane Hospital -- where she was treated for pregnancy-related nausea.

She claimed Constable Donnelly took her to the Brisbane Watchhouse and that she was denied medication or a container to vomit in and was abused by another female prisoner for being sick in the cell.

Ms Eaves, in her statement, alleged that before the arrest Constable Donelly had regularly parked outside her unit and called her intercom. She said he intercepted her on 15 to 20 occasions between May 2004 and March 2006. Ms Eaves was later found not guilty of unlicensed driving.

During a four day civil trial in the District Court early last month, Ms Eaves testified Constable Donnelly, after placing her in handcuffs about 5.45pm on March 16, had paraded her through her building, down a lift, past cafes, shops, people and neighbours.

"(Ms Eaves) said (that) along the way she was sick and she was dry-retching and then once in the police vehicle she felt sick and needed to vomit,'' Judge Samios said.

"(Ms Eaves) was then transported to the Roma Street Watchhouse where she was taken into custody ... charged with the offence of disqualified driving ... (and later) before a magistrate ... was found not guilty of the charge.''

The court was told Ms Eaves, who represented herself during the hearing, felt her arrest was a malicious act and that she was "really scared about being put in the lock-up while pregnant.''

Ms Eaves testified Constable Donnelly had subjected her to ongoing harassment prior to the 2006 incident, saying the officer had approached her on between "15 and 20 occasions.''

Constable Donnelly testified he had "rarely made mistakes in his working life'' as a police officer.

Under cross-examination by Ms Eaves, Constable Donnelly denied acting in a "spiteful'' manner at the time he arrested her. "(However Constable Donnelly) agreed there had been verbal slanging-matches between (Ms Eaves) and (himself) but he said it was from (Ms Eaves') side not from his,'' Judge Samios said.

The court was told Ms Eaves' "traffic history was appalling'' and that she had racked up 30 traffic offences between January 7, 2000 and October 26, 2004. Judge Samios said Ms Eaves finally regained her driver's licence on July 31, 2008, but was booked for speeding the following day and caught driving while using a mobile phone on September 5, 2008.

In handing down his findings, Judge Samios said: "I consider (Constable Donnelly) was not even-handed about (Ms Eaves) ... (and) appeared to be adverse to (her).'' "I find (Constable Donnelly) made a mistake when he identified (Ms Eaves) as the driver of the vehicle ... (and) I do not accept he made an honest mistake.''

Judge Samios said he accepted Ms Eaves to be a "truthful witness'' and in particular "her evidence about her past dealings'' with Constable Donnelly. "(Constable Donnelly) handcuffed her with her hands behind her back and laughed at her when she was vomiting,'' he said.

"I find (Constable Donnelly) guilty of false imprisonment of (Ms Eaves) ... (and) I find the (State of Queensland) vicariously liable.''

Judge Samios awarded Ms Eaves $30,000 in compensatory damages, $10,000 in exemplary damages, $20,000 in aggravated damages and $33,000 interest.


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