GAY activist Bryn Hutchinson has been found not guilty of assaulting police on the night of the Mardi Gras Parade earlier this year, with a judge throwing out the case this afternoon.
At a hearing at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney, Magistrate Eve Wynhausen dismissed all charges against Mr Hutchinson and his sister, Kate Hutchinson, who had also been charged with swearing at police officers involved in an altercation with her brother after the parade ended.
Shortly after the magistrate’s decision, Mr Hutchinson told the Star Observer outside the Downing Centre that words could not express his thanks to the LGBTI community and wider public for their unending support following the revelations of police violence during this year’s Mardi Gras festivities.
“This justified outrage led directly to increased public scrutiny of police,” he said.
“Justice in my case is not the end. There are clearly systemic issues with policing in NSW – my experience is one amongst many.”
The former Community Action Against Homophobia co-convenor also said the ordeal cost him many sleepless nights and had created great stress for him and his family.
“It is unacceptable for police to investigate themselves; political action must be taken to establish independent oversight of police conduct,” he said.
“I call on all concerned citizens and politicians to continue raising concern and supporting other victims of police brutality.”
Mr Hutchinson, 32, was charged with assaulting police after being detained and arrested at around 11:30pm on the night of Saturday, March 2, following a verbal warning by police officers against crossing Oxford St after the Mardi Gras Parade had ended.
At the time, Mr Hutchinson claimed he was innocent of all charges, and that he was the victim of police brutality and the use of excessive force by officers attached to Parramatta and Fairfield local area commands. His sister was also charged with offensive language on the night after coming to the defence of her brother. She, too, had all charges against her dismissed this afternoon by Magistrate Wynhausen.
“After such a traumatic experience of watching my brother being beaten up by police who are meant to be assisting civilians and the community, I am glad justice has been served,” Ms Hutchinson told the Star Observer.
“But that’s not the end, its time something is done about the culture of the police force. Internal investigations are not efficient, it’s like asking a thief to investigate themselves … Time for an external body.”
Speaking to the Star Observer shortly after the incident in early March, Mr Hutchinson claimed he was “grabbed from behind by several officers and thrown down on [his] back” before being flipped over and kicked several times.
The incident was one of several alleged instances of excessive police force over the Mardi Gras festival that triggered protests in Sydney’s LGBTI community and prompted responses from festival organisers, local rights groups, Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich, and NSW Police.
MORE TO COME
Bryn Hutchinson (third from left) pictured with family and supporters outside Downing Centre Local Court (Photo: Serkan Ozturk)