Police dodge $129k bill as court rules on Fourth Reich fracas

HIGH PROFILE: Peter Busuttil enlisted Winston Terracini SC (pictured departing Wollongong Local Court on Friday) to defend him against charges stemming from the October, 2015 police raid (inset) on the Fourth Reich's Albion Park headquarters.

HIGH PROFILE: Peter Busuttil enlisted Winston Terracini SC (pictured departing Wollongong Local Court on Friday) to defend him against charges stemming from the October, 2015 police raid (inset) on the Fourth Reich's Albion Park headquarters.

A man found not guilty of assaulting a police officer at the Fourth Reich Motorcycle Club’s contentious 2015 open day has failed in his bid to recoup almost $129,000 in legal costs. 

Peter Busuttil enlisted high-profile Sydney silk Winston Terracini, SC, to defend him against charges stemming from a raid by Strike Force Raptor on the Albion Park-based club’s annual event. 

Busuttil was manning an entry gate at the club’s Croome Lane headquarters when he was arrested and charged with an assault – a push to the chest – upon the Raptor officer in charge, Detective Inspector Darren Beeche.

Magistrate Mark Douglass ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing, following a three-day hearing that began on August 8 this year.  

In Wollongong Local Court on Friday, Magistrate Douglass dismissed Busuttil’s bid for costs before adjourning the matter to October 6, when he is expected to hand down remarks. 

In written submissions considered by the magistrate as part of the costs application, Mr Terracini described police as “rude, aggressive and inappropriate” in their early dealings with Busuttil, who had been subjected to an “unnecessary, unlawful and extremely violent” arrest. 

“It was accompanied by a gratuitous assault, as described by the applicant in his evidence and corroborated by numerous eyewitnesses called by the defence,” he said. 

Mr Terracini argued prosecuting police had failed to investigate aspects of the case that could have established Busuttil’s innocence, and had never obtained available CCTV footage of the incident. 

“The CCTV footage undoubtedly cast significant light on the credibility or reliability of material prosecution witnesses … as is clear in the … footage, there were many civilian eyewitnesses to the incident. Not one was approached at any time to make a statement,” said Mr Terracini, whose past client list includes includes Ron Medich, Gordon Wood, Keli Lane, Marcus Einfeld and Harriet Wran. 

“The evidence complied in the investigation of the applicant’s case was built entirely on the statements of four police officers with significant inconsistencies between their versions.”

During earlier proceedings, Busuttil’s legal team accused a Wollongong police prosecutor of having inappropriate contact with their client in the lead-up to the hearing. 

Mr Terracini declined to comment on the costs outcome outside court on Friday, however instructing solicitor James Howell told the Mercury Busuttil was pursuing further action "through police integrity channels".