BVM v The State of South Australia

Key Words: Invasive police action – assault – battery – false imprisonment – malicious prosecution – successful settlement

Facts:

BVM was a former South Australian beer brewer. Years ago he had co-invented a famous alcoholic lemonade, but was fleeced by his business partner and left with nothing. At the time of the incident BVM was living in an apartment block, where he was employed as a caretaker. Police had visited one of BVM’s downstairs neighbours several times in the past week, at all times of the day. Three nights before the incident, BVM had rebuked the police for turning up after midnight and disturbing other residents of the apartment block.

On the night of the incident, police turned up at the apartment at 2am to talk to the person downstairs. BVM leaned over the balcony and yelled at police to go away. The two officers came up to BVM’s apartment, where BVM had stepped inside his apartment and closed the flyscreen door. One officer placed his foot in front of BVM’s door, preventing him from opening the flyscreen. When BVM pushed at the flyscreen, the officer quickly removed his foot, allowing the door to swing open and hit the officer’s shoulder.

The officer hauled BVM out of his apartment and arrested him. At this point BVM was still in his underpants, and police paraded him through the apartment block before transporting him to the police station. He was charged with hindering police and resisting arrest. BVM was also subjected to a forceful and invasive DNA swab inside his mouth, for no discernible reason.

The following day the magistrate at the local court dismissed the charges against BMV.

Outcome:

BMV spent months searching South Australia to find lawyers who could help him bring a civil suit against the police for his mistreatment. None of the lawyers he consulted took on this kind of matter. When BMV reached out to O’Brien Solicitors, the firm agreed to take his case. Shortly after taking on the case, O’Brien Solicitors helped BVM file a statement of claim against the South Australian police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Police settled for a significant sum, thereby compensating BMV for his mistreatment.