A serving NSW Police officer and his nurse girlfriend have escaped criminal convictions for their involvement in an altercation with staff at a Wollongong pub.
Leading Senior Constable Nathan Higgins admitted to “aggressively” pushing the manager of Hotel Illawarra after security staff asked his partner, Sasha May Carruthers, to leave the premises due to her level of intoxication on the evening of May 28 last year.
Carruthers subsequently exited the venue but refused to leave and became abusive towards hotel staff.
The pair’s lawyer, William Barber, told Wollongong Local Court on Friday that Higgins was grabbed around the neck by one of the bouncers and thrown to the ground a few minutes after the assault, leaving him with a deep cut above his left eye that needed stitches and left him with permanent scaring.
The court heard police had not laid any charges against the bouncer responsible for that action.
In declining to record a conviction against the Coledale couple, Magistrate Brett Thomas found they were both of exceptional prior character, with no criminal history between them.
“I accept it was a spur of the moment reaction by Mr Higgins,” he said.
“It would not be appropriate and the community would not expect these matters to be dealt with by recording a conviction.”
Mr Barber told the court Higgins was currently on leave due to an injury he received in training however aspired to return to work full time.
However, he said Higgins had been advised should he receive an adverse outcome in court on Friday he would lose his job with the police.
Magistrate Thomas acknowledged that was outside his consideration and ultimately a matter for the force, however backed Higgins returning to the job.
“He will have to deal with the police force after today as to what action they may take,” he said.
“[In my opinion] the incident should not in any way constitute behaviour that involves Mr Higgins being dismissed from the service.”
Outside court, Mr Barber said his clients were happy with the result.
“They are extremely relieved justice finally has been done,” he said.
”The alarming part of this case is both people were quite severely assaulted
“Mr Higgins was left with a serious laceration across his forehead which needed stitches after being thrown violently to the ground by security staff.
“It was certainly an overreaction by security staff in these circumstances.”
Mr Barber said Higgins had pushed the manager away from him “purely to get distance” between them.
“He admits perhaps it [the push] was more severe than warranted.
“They are both very glad its finished in this way without the recording of convictions.”