A police officer charged after allegedly tasering a 95-year-old great-grandmother in southern NSW has appeared in court in person for the first time.
Senior Constable Kristian White was accompanied by his partner when he arrived at Cooma Local Court on Wednesday to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
No pleas have been entered to any of the charges.
Police allege the 33-year-old tasered Clare Nowland at the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility in Cooma on May 17 during a confrontation with the great-grandmother who was holding a knife.
Mrs Nowland fell and fractured her skull and died in hospital on May 24.
Senior Constable White was required to attend court in person after Magistrate Roger Clisdell expressed “disgust” at the last mention, when prosecutors allowed Mr White to appear via audio-visual link (AVL) without his knowledge.
The Supreme Court imposed bail conditions requiring the suspended officer to attend, and he appeared in a blue suit and blue tie.
Senior Constable White stood in the courtroom before Mr Clisdell, motionless, with his hands folded while his lawyer, Warwick Anderson, appeared via AVL.
The prosecution told the court a large part of the brief had been served but they were still waiting on post-mortem examination results and called for an adjournment to October.
Mr Clisdell also told the prosecutor to contact the courts if they experienced “any resistance from the coroner’s office”.
While listing the next date for October 4, Mr Clisdell granted a request from Mr Anderson for he and Mr White to appear via AVL.
The only words spoken by Mr White before the court were “thank you, your honour” before the matter was adjourned.
In documents tabled to the court in July, police described Senior Constable White’s actions as “a grossly disproportionate response and excessive use of force”.
The alleged police facts state Mrs Nowland, a resident at Yallambee Lodge for five years, was seen at 3:10am moving around the facility using her walker and holding two knives.
The documents claim that after she refused to drop the knives, staff tried and failed to contact Mrs Nowland’s next of kin before calling triple-0.
They go on to allege Mrs Nowland had “thrown one of the knives at the staff members, missing them”.
The alleged facts then say Senior Constable White, another officer and ambulance staff found Mrs Nowland in a room holding one of the knives.
The second police officer had attempted to grab the knife, but Mrs Nowland raised her hand, “forcing her to retreat”, the documents state.
Senior Constable White is then alleged to have drawn and activated his taser when Mrs Nowland “slowly” moved towards the group.
“Clare, stop now, see this, this is a taser, drop it now, drop it, this is your first warning”, police allege Senior Constable White said.
After further discussion and “little to no reaction” from Mrs Nowland, the documents state she raised the knife towards Mr White’s colleague.
At this stage, police allege Senior Constable White said, “Stop just … Na, bugger it”, before using the taser.
Mrs Nowland was hospitalised in a critical condition after falling and fracturing her skull.
She died in hospital one week later.
She is survived by eight children, 24 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
Mrs Nowland’s family have also filed a civil case against the state of New South Wales in relation to the incident.
(Source: ABC News)