WA Police officer Andrew Barber pleads guilty to ‘payback’ assault on teenage girl at watch house


July 12, 2019 14:43:53

A police officer has pleaded guilty to a “payback” assault on a 16-year-old girl in a cell at the Perth watch house where he pushed her, sat on her and tried to hit her.

Key points:

  • Andrew Barber assaulted the girl after she kicked a door and it struck him in the face
  • His lawyer applied for a spent conviction, saying there were “unique circumstances”
  • Prosecutors said the girl was no threat to his safety and it was an abuse of power

WA Police Senior Constable Andrew David Barber was immediately stood aside from operational duties after the assault, which took place on the night of May 25.

It was recorded by CCTV cameras in the watch house building.

Barber, 36, pleaded guilty at his very first court appearance, with the Perth Magistrates Court told the teenager had been arrested in William Street in the city for attempted robbery.

She was taken back to the watch house and placed in a holding cell, the door of which Barber decided to leave open so she could get some fresh air.

The court was told the girl was being abusive and trying to walk out of the cell, and when he tried to close the door she kicked it with her right foot, causing it to strike Barber on the right side of his face.

He then walked back into the cell and put his right hand on the victim’s shoulder and his left hand on her head, pushing her onto a concrete bench before using his body weight to sit on her.

He also attempted to strike her.

The prosecutor said it was estimated the incident lasted about 7 seconds.

‘Remorseful’ officer seeks spent conviction

Barber’s lawyer Richard Yates said the girl’s behaviour on the night oscillated between being quiet and co-operative, and being difficult, argumentative and abusive.

He said at the time his client was angry with the girl over the door hitting him, and with himself for deciding to leave the door open — a decision he now regretted.

Mr Yates said Barber was deeply remorseful and accepted he had made the wrong decision because he was in a position of authority over the girl.

He submitted Barber should be granted a spent conviction order which would mean he would not have a criminal record, saying the officer had been in the police force for 11 years and had a good service history.

“[The assault] occurred in unique, volatile circumstances which are unlikely to be replicated in the real world,” Mr Yates said.

He also said the conviction would have ramifications in the force and Barber would face internal disciplinary proceedings.

Assault an abuse of power: prosecutor

The application for the spent conviction was opposed by the prosecutor, who described the assault as “payback”.

“He deliberately entered the cell to get payback for the door hitting him in the face,” he told the court.

“She did kick the door but her behaviour was not uncommon and does not mitigate the assault.

“She was no threat to his safety and he could have simply shut the door.”

The prosecutor also said the assault was an abuse of power because the girl had been particularly vulnerable and Barber held a position of authority over her.

Magistrate Gregory Smith will sentence Barber later today after he has viewed the CCTV footage of the assault.









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