From the pen of The Daily Examiner editor, David Bancroft, on Page 8 of the 12th April 2011 newspaper issue:
“IT is almost beyond comprehension that no-one has been convicted of anything more serious than a misdemeanour following the Valentine's Day riots in Yamba last year.
It is beyond dispute that a police car, probably worth in excess of $100,000, and another vehicle were set alight and that police from all over the North Coast were pelted with a variety of missiles, including bricks and rocks.
It is conceivable someone could have been asleep in the second car to catch fire, with disastrous consequences.
All this was caught on police video and from the mobile phones of those attending a loud, late night party in the Yamba industrial estate.
Scores of people were there and witnessed the action.
But despite there being enough evidence to keep a trial going for six weeks, no riot convictions were recorded.
In fact, the only charge that stuck was that of failing to comply with a noise abatement order and, because of his previous good record, the occupier of the premises, Craig McNeill, was released on a good behaviour bond. One of the difficulties in prosecuting a case where there are multiple accused is that almost everyone has a different interpretation of what occurred and, in the court's mind, that can be enough to create the reasonable doubt required for acquittal.
This trial has already cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for no result, but that figure could climb substantially higher if those who have now been released (remember some spent months in jail) pursue compensation.”
The Daily Examiner article “Yamba riot accused set free” on Page 1 of the 12th April 2011 issue:
“In handing down his findings, Mr Andrews questioned why police held a debrief on February 17 before they prepared their statements.
“It is difficult to believe why experienced police officers would undertake a process that would lead to their evidence being criticised by the defence,” he said.
He then went on to question the honesty of police evidence.
“If police are prepared not to be honest in such matters, how can a court be prepared to consider their evidence seriously?” he said.
“There is little doubt that the various police witnesses have collaborated with their evidence.”