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Policeman hit teen with baton months after assaulting disability pensioner

Bruising on the teenager’s arm.

Bruising on the teenager’s arm.

Instead, the lawyer said, Hilgart made errors in judgment in difficult circumstances in two incidents. The boy’s uncle drove in a dangerous and “reprehensible” manner, Mr Gullaci said, and the pursuit came less than a year after six people were deliberately hit and killed by a driver in Bourke Street.

The uncle was charged over the pursuit but the result of his case is not known. One of the other passengers ran from the scene, the court heard.

Mr Gullaci called for Hilgart to be put on a good-behaviour bond and fined, without conviction. He said his client had been “demonised” in the media for his roles in both assaults, was now unemployed with mental health problems, and accepted his responsibility over the second incident.

“Yes, perhaps decisions could have been made better, but that’s very easy to say sitting back in a comfortable chair with the benefit of hindsight and watching video footage,” the lawyer said.

Prosecutors agree a fine and good-behaviour bond are appropriate penalties but they want Hilgart convicted.

Ms Deltondo accepted police regularly faced challenging situations and that the pursuit and its aftermath were dangerous for Hilgart and his colleague. But Hilgart’s rank at the time meant he should have been setting an example, and that the public expected police to act lawfully and with good judgment in stressful circumstances.

Hilgart was to face trial in the County Court for assaulting the boy until he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a weapon and the case was sent back to the Magistrates Court.

He was last year found guilty of unlawful assault for spraying a hose in pensioner John’s face a third time, having earlier used it to wash capsicum spray from the man’s face. John was handcuffed and on the ground at the time.

Hilgart and another officer, Brad McLeod, appealed against the findings but a County Court judge this year upheld the magistrate’s verdicts and penalties. Hilgart was put on a good-behaviour bond without conviction and ordered to pay $1000 to the court fund.

McLeod was found guilty of punching John, deploying capsicum spray in his face while the pensioner was pinned down and directing Hilgart to use the hose. McLeod was also put on a good-behaviour bond without conviction but was ordered to pay $3500 to the court fund. He has also since quit the force.

The third officer found guilty of unlawfully assaulting the pensioner, John Edney, did not appeal against the magistrate’s guilty finding and has since had his job reinstated. He struck John’s leg with a baton and stood on his head.

The three other officers who were at John’s home were not charged.

Hilgart, who watched Tuesday’s hearing on a video link from his home, will be sentenced on Friday.

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