Jul 26, 2021

Policeman who assaulted disability pensioner gets his job back

Police walking down street

Police officers were called to conduct a welfare check at the home of disability pensioner, John Goutzoulas, on September 19, 2017, after Mr Goutzoulas’ psychologist called triple zero for help.

Last year, a court heard that Mr Goutzoulas had been acting in an “unruly, aggressive, threatening and erratic way” when police attempted to enter his home. His refusal to let them in resulted in Mr Goutzoulas being dragged to the floor, assaulted and pepper-sprayed.

CCTV footage of the incident, published by The Age in 2018, was shocking, as two officers on the scene appeared to revel in humiliating Mr Goutzoulas.

Senior Constable Brad McLeod was dubbed the main offender of the incident and found guilty of three counts of assault for punching Mr Goutzoulas in the stomach, pepper-spraying him at close range, and encouraging fellow senior constable Florian Hilgart to spray him in the face with a hose three times.

McLeod, Hilgart and Edney were all spared conviction for the attack despite being found guilty, with McLeod and Hilgart choosing to resign from the force.

The board, headed by workforce relations lawyer, Andrea Lester, admitted that Mr Goutzoulas was denied comfort and dignity by the police response, but decided that Constable Edney could keep his job but must be demoted.

While some police feel that the board’s decision to reinstate Constable Edney will have a negative effect on the reputation of Victoria Police, the victim of the assault has revealed that he feels that the officer is deserving of compassion.

“The other officers, Hilgart and McLeod, were the officers who were amused by my humiliation when they assaulted me by spraying water in my face,” Mr Goutzoulas told reporters. 

“Edney was not part of that conduct. I am glad that Edney will be re-trained as it has always been my intention for police to learn how to deal with mental health patients.”

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