Assault charges halted against SA police

HALT: Sean Hobbs (pictured) and Andrew Jaunay were charged over an incident in Whyalla in 2013.
HALT: Sean Hobbs (pictured) and Andrew Jaunay were charged over an incident in Whyalla in 2013.

Two South Australian police officers charged over an altercation with a teenager in Whyalla in 2013 have had the case against them halted.

In Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday, magistrate Brett Dixon permanently stayed the prosecution of Andrew Allan Jaunay and Sean Gregory Hobbs, ruling the proceedings unfair and oppressive.

The pair were charged with aggravated assault after an investigation which ultimately involved the Police Ombudsman, the Internal Investigation Section of SA police, the Independent Commissioner against Corruption and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

But they argued that the case against them should not proceed because of the delay in bringing the matter before the courts and the improper provision of police material, including statements they made about the incident, to ICAC Bruce Lander and the DPP.

Mr Dixon ruled that the statements provided by the two officers were of assistance to the investigating authorities and therefore compromised their ability to manage any future trial.

"To place the defendants in the position where they are asked to make statements about their involvement in an incident that could lead to criminal charges against them, under threat of disciplinary proceedings if they refuse, is unfair," he said.

The magistrate said he was also concerned with the use made of the officers' statements and that they were effectively deprived of their right to refuse to give evidence and were locked into a version of events that they might now consider inaccurate.

"I am of the view that the unfairness caused by the use of the impugned affidavits here cannot be overcome," Mr Dixon said.

"As has been said before in cases of this type, it is not possible to unscramble the egg.

"In my view, to continue with these criminal charges in circumstances where the investigation is tainted by the use of evidence obtained and used contrary to common law and statutory rights, is unfair and oppressive to the defendants."

Australian Associated Press