A Sydney man who was accused of being drunk and thrown out of a Parramatta pub after drinking one beer has been awarded $20,000, after a court found he was unlawfully arrested.
Johnny Raad, 46, was on a night out with his wife Ann at the Albion Hotel and had just bought his second glass of Victoria Bitter when a security guard took him outside and said he was "not going back in" because he was "intoxicated".
Shortly after 3am, following an altercation in which the NSW District Court found a second security guard approached Mr Raad in a "menacing fashion" and likely pushed him, an agitated Mr Raad complained to police at the hotel that he had been assaulted.
Police issued him with a "ticket" for failing to leave the hotel when requested. When he appeared to be walking back towards the hotel, he was handcuffed and pushed into the back of a caged police van.
Mr Raad was taken to Parramatta Police Station where he spent just under two hours in a dock before being released.
District Court judge Matthew Dicker found Mr Raad's arrest was not lawfully justified because police did not intend to charge him with the offence of remaining in the vicinity of licensed premises after being asked to leave.
"A person cannot be arrested merely to prevent the continuation of [an] offence if the police do not intend to charge the arrested person with the offence," Judge Dicker said.
He noted the offence was only punishable by a fine of up to $5500 "and not a potential term of imprisonment".
"There was no evidence that it was necessary to arrest Mr Raad for the purposes of bringing a charge," Judge Dicker said.
He said the police also used "excessive force" in "strongly" pushing him into the police van.
"A person cannot be arrested merely to prevent the continuation of [an] offence if the police do not intend to charge the arrested person with the offence."- District Court judge Matthew Dicker
Judge Dicker found Mr Raad was not drunk although he "reasonably appeared" to be so, both to the police and the security guard.
He said it was "surprising" that Mr Raad had consumed only one glass of beer, given his size and the fact he was at the hotel for almost three hours.
However, Judge Dicker accepted Mr Raad's account "in the absence of any compelling conflicting evidence to the contrary".
He said video footage from inside the hotel showed Mr Raad "waving his arms around".
"He seems to be indignant, upset and highly agitated by the events," Judge Dicker said.
He found Mr Raad "unwisely chose to remain" at the hotel after he was allegedly assaulted by the security guard, rather than leaving and reporting the assault at the police station.
He said Mr Raad "essentially impressed as an honest witness" but his evidence should be approached with "some caution" because he was "very upset, worried and distressed on the morning in question".
"I consider it ... likely that the plaintiff complained with a loud voice and could probably reasonably be interpreted at the time as being argumentative and quarrelsome both to the security staff and to the police," Judge Dicker said.
He awarded Mr Raad $20,000 for false imprisonment, noting that "a number of police officers" were involved in the arrest even though he did not "resist in any way".
"The freedom of a member of the public is important and arrests must take place for valid and lawful reasons," Judge Dicker said.
The story, Sydney man thrown out of pub and arrested after 'one beer' awarded $20,000 in damages, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.