Judge rules 'with regret' on removal of piercings

A Christchurch financial adviser who claimed a police constable removed her genital body piercings with industrial boltcutters while she was in custody has lost her lawsuit.

The woman, who is in her 30s and cannot be named, had accused the policewoman of unlawful sexual connection, assault, breach of the Bill of Rights and abuse of her position.

She sued the police for $150,000 over claims that five piercings from her tongue, navel and genitals were lopped off with boltcutters at Christchurch central police station.

Judge Raoul Neave said he found both witnesses convincing and reliable, but since the alleged victim was drunk on the night of May 3, 2008, some "unfortunate inconsistencies" emerged in her story.

"It is therefore, with some regret, that I must find that the plaintiff's case does not succeed."

The woman claimed she was ordered to remove her piercings when she was arrested for obstruction in May 2008 after her partner was arrested for drink-driving. Both were later acquitted of the charges.

At the civil hearing held in July and September last year, the woman said boltcutters were used to "punish and humiliate" her - a claim the officer denied.

The woman claimed she was told to remove her many piercings.

The woman said she took out all the piercings she could manage but told the officer - known only as Constable W - she could not remove the rest.

"The constable then got out a pair of boltcutters. They were about 300mm long. They looked like proper, heavy industrial boltcutters.

"I was sobbing and protesting all the time that this was happening."

Her solicitor, Tony Greig, claimed the incident was a "widespread practice" in the city's main police station.

Two other witnesses told the court police also cut piercings from them.

The officer, who has since left Christchurch police, rejected the claims at the hearing, saying: "I'm not that kind of person."

Mr Greig said his client was "distressed" by the decision, which the judge took eight months to reach.

Judge Neave believed the problem was that in civil and criminal cases science was increasingly "overtaking decision-making".

"I remain suspicious of what occurred but suspicion is no more proof in this context than in a criminal case."

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 30 Aug 2014 03:49:06 Processing Time: 1148ms