May 29, 2023

“Unfathomable”: Clare Nowland’s family speaks for the first time since her death

Clare Nowland granddaughter
Kylie Paske (pictured) said her family wants answers about the decision to use a Taser on her 95-year-old grandmother who had dementia. [Source: 7NEWS]

The family of Clare Nowland has spoken out for the first time since her death last week, calling the situation surrounding her death “unfathomable”.

Clare Nowland, 95, died in Cooma Hospital on Wednesday night surrounded by family after she was tasered by New South Wales (NSW) Police Senior Constable, Kristian White, who faces criminal charges that could be upgraded because she died. 

In their first exclusive interview with 7News, Ms Nowland’s family said they want answers about what happened.

“You don’t think you’re going to wake up to your grandmother being tasered,” said granddaughter, Kylie Paske.

The incident was sparked as Ms Nowland, who weighed just 43 kilograms and had a dementia diagnosis, was walking around the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility in Cooma with her walker armed with a serrated steak knife. Police attended and when she refused to lower the weapon, Constable White deployed his Taser which caused the 95-year-old to fall and fracture her skull. 

Ms Nowland was in Cooma Base Hospital for a week before she passed where she received end-of-life care. 

Ms Paske said the family were still in shock but said she hopes her grandmother’s death will prompt urgent change to how people with dementia are handled and cared for in aged care facilities across the country.

Ms Nowland was a mother to eight, a grandmother to 24 and a great-grandmother to 31 and has been remembered as a well-loved community member, member of the church and dedicated volunteer by Cooma locals.

The Police Commission is investigating the incident involving Ms Nowland and Costable White, but the community and other politicians are concerned about police investigating their own with calls demanding an independent investigation be conducted.

Greens MP, Sue Higginson, said the police commissioner should refer the matter to the law enforcement watchdog backed by Greens senator, David Shoebridge, who demanded a transparent investigation.

Police Commissioner, Karen Webb, has also been criticised for how she handled the incident, telling the press the police body camera footage of the event would not be made public unless it was required, admitting she hadn’t even watched it before speaking on the matter. Concerns were also raised about NSW Police’s intentional omission of details from the first announcement of the event where the use of a Taser was not mentioned. 

NSW Premier, Chris Minns, offered condolences to the Nowland family and spoke on these concerns last week, defending Ms Webb. 

“The police commissioner and the police minister have been in contact with the family, respecting their wishes in relation to the complicated processes of a police investigation, and the next steps in relation to that.”

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  1. Yes totally unfathomable, how the hell did it get to this level in the first place. I work in aged care and that facility has Alot of explaining to do.
    Not all blame lays in this officer’s lap others are also just as responsible.
    Full investigation of All parties is required here.
    Condolences to Clare’s family 🙏

  2. Yep. We have had the police called in for the exact same situation in my facility. Because it is an Aged Care facility you are are not to manhandle anyone. You have to wait until the situation calms down. You see if someone is a danger to themselves or others in aged care you cannot touch them incase you bruise them. The situation would be different in a hospital. Security would just go in and dissolve the situation quickly. This was a 95nyr old woman who was scared and probably non-threatening to all but herself. They should have handled the situation with their training and waited until she calmed down then had a person she trusted to diffuse the situation. Over the top calling police. The staff must be so incompetent or maybe there is just the issue of transient workers who are very young and don’t have hardly any if at all any training with this sort of thing.

  3. Having worked in Aged Care for over 17 years only once has there been a situation where Police were called for a Resident being aggressive. Having heard what happened with This Lady, it could have been handled so much differently. My Condolences to The Family!

  4. Caring for people with dementia requires respect, patience and time. People with dementia are cognitively confused but still feel things and staff/ carers need to understand their specific confusion andbprovide reassurance. Was there an RN on duty at 04.15 am when the incident occurred? Why couldn’t the paramedic do anything? Was it because Aged Care Standards prohibit restraint? Could staff have lost their jobs or registrations if they had attempted to distract Mrs Nowland and documented the incident as required?

  5. The police should never have been called. The failure is of the Aged care facility- inadequately trained and qualified staff who have resorted to force by proxy. The police officer performed as he has been trained to do when responding to an armed protagonist. He should never have been in that situation .

  6. Were the police called because staff and paramedics weren’t allowed to restrain Mrs Nowland?

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