Most of us enjoy a good laugh, but as 31-year-old Rickey Caton will tell you, it may be best to avoid cracking a joke when pulled over by the police.
Caton and two friends were driving around in Queanbeyan to get some beer for their work Christmas party. They were pulled over by police who claimed that their car matched the description of a vehicle used in a home invasion.
Police asked Caton whether he had any weapons, to which he replied “no weapons, but I’ve got a big dinosaur… roar.” He said this impulsively after spotting a green dinosaur toy that his young daughter had left behind in the car.
Perhaps this response wasn’t Caton’s finest moment, but what happened next was totally out of proportion.
The first police officer, Senior Constable Finnegan, physically dragged Caton out of his car and threw him onto the gravel footpath, where he was then handcuffed. A second officer, Senior Constable Litchfield, directed Caton’s friend, Adam Antram, to get out of the car and stand by a retaining wall.
A third officer, Constable Hicks, then told Antrum to get his hands out of his pockets, and despite the fact that Antrum immediately complied, Constable Hicks shoulder-charged and knocked him unconscious regardless.
Not surprisingly, the police version of the events was inconsistent with that given by Caton and Antrum. Officer Finnegan claimed that Caton was rummaging around in his pockets, possibly for a weapon, which is why the officer was forced to physically drag Caton from the car.
In relation to the assault on Antrum, Constable Hicks claimed that he was forced to intervene after Antrum attempted to assault his female colleague Constable Litchfield
Things just got worse for Caton and Antrum from then on. A few days after the incident, both men were told that their jobs were being terminated. This occurred just after Constable Hicks attended their workplace and dropped-off their court attendance notices, speaking with their employer about the incident while there. Officer Hicks claimed that he attended the workplace after being unable to locate either of the men at their homes.
Caton and Antrum were both charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police.
But happily for the two men, Senior Constable Litchfield refused to fabricate evidence. Contrary to the statements given by her colleagues, Litchfield testified that Antrum had been calmly standing beside her after getting out of the car. He had not attempted to charge at her at all, as officer Hicks had claimed.
Midway through Litchfield’s evidence, an adjournment was called and the prosecutor withdrew all charges against the men. Lawyers are now seeking that over $50,000 of legal costs be reimbursed to their clients by police.
This is just one recent example of police corruption in NSW. And while the story had a happy ending for Caton and Antrum, the outcome hasn’t been so good for Senior Constable Litchfield who bravely stood by her morals and refused to lie in court.
She has described her workplace as “tense and horrible” after speaking out. She feels excluded and that other officers are talking behind her back.
But Caton expressed his gratitude, stating that “If it wasn’t for that female cop coming out and telling the truth, we would’ve been stuffed.”
The Police Force is now investigating allegations of perjury, assault and workplace bullying.
We can only hope that officers Finnegan and Hicks are brought to account for their reprehensible, criminal conduct.