29 Mar 2011

Prisoner 'feared for his life' at officer's hands

6:00 pm on 29 March 2011

A man has told a jury he feared for his life when a West Auckland police officer grabbed him by the neck and throttled him.

Sergeant Martin James Folan is on trial in the Auckland District Court, facing seven charges of assault on five different prisoners, including one who subsequently had to have a testicle removed.

Evidence was given on Tuesday by Minora Kea, who had been arrested in 2009 after being involved in a fight during which he had been hit over the head with a metal bar.

Later, at the Henderson police station, Mr Kea told the court, Sgt Folan grabbed him by the neck with both hands, pushing him up against a nearby wall.

He said he was incredibly scared, and was hoping two other officers watching nearby would intervene.

After several seconds, he said, Sgt Folan let him go.

The jury has viewed security camera footage that shows Mr Kea being held and pushed up against a wall inside the police station's processing area.

Testicle had to be surgically removed

The court also heard from Joseph McGee, who recalled his arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after being involved in a fight in West Auckland.

Mr McGee said he can't remember being arrested or arriving at the police station, but noticed a high level of pain in his groin area overnight. It was some of the worst pain he has ever experienced, he said.

He later had surgery for the removal of a testicle because of extensive damage.

Questioned by the Crown, Mr McGee said injuries he received in the fight were only to his upper body. Under cross-examination, however, he conceded he had initially told the police his groin injuries were caused during the fight.

Teenager allegedly elbowed in face

Another to testify was James Campbell, whose 16-year-old son Finn Campbell, it is alleged, was elbowed in the face by Sgt Folan while handcuffed in the back seat of a police car.

Mr Campbell said the officer told him his son had been with a group of teenagers vandalising letterboxes in the neighbourhood.

He said the officer then told him that as he was trying to put the teenager's seatbelt on, he accidentally hit him in the face with his elbow.

Mr Campbell said his son was very distraught but there were no marks or bruises on his face.

The trial is due to finish next week.