World News

Policeman cleared of assaulting woman in her lounge room

A Victorian policeman has been found not guilty of assaulting a woman in her home 22 years ago, after his lawyers argued his use of force was lawful.

Key points:

  • Mr Jenkin stood silently in court as the verdicts were read out and hugged his lawyer
  • He pleaded not guilty to four charges, including intentionally causing serious harm
  • Corrina Horvath claimed the officer broke into her home and she woke in a divisional van covered in blood

Leading Senior Constable David Jenkin, 49, was accused of intentionally causing serious injury to Corinna Horvath in her lounge room at Hastings, south-east of Melbourne.

Ms Horvath, whose nose was broken in the incident, received a compensation payment and an apology from Victoria Police several years ago and Mr Jenkin was charged by the state's corruption watchdog, IBAC.

The four-week trial heard Mr Jenkin and six other officers had smashed their way in without a warrant in March, 1996.

He was charged in November 2016 and pleaded not guilty to four charges.

A man walks out of a glass door.

Mr Jenkin, dressed in a suit, stood silently with his hands clasped in front of him, as the jury of five women and seven men acquitted Mr Jenkin of all charges after one day of deliberations.

He breathed heavily and blinked repeatedly as the jury returned not guilty verdicts on all four charges and later hugged his lawyer when he was released from the dock, but did not comment to reporters outside the court.

Ms Horvath, who was 21 at the time, told the court she could only remember hearing the glass door smash and being flipped onto the floor.

"I remember waking up in the divisional van with my hands behind my back, handcuffed," she said.

"My face was sore, I was wet … I felt my face and it was all sticky. Everyone was yelling and screaming.

"I was covered in blood."

Use of force was appropriate, court told

Ms Horvath told the court she felt continually "harassed and followed" by police, who pulled her and her partner over in their car because it was unroadworthy on the night before the alleged assault.

The policemen went to their home the following day because they thought the couple had ignored their order not to drive the car.

Corinna Horvath lies in a hospital bed with visible facial injuries.

The court heard a scuffle broke out between Ms Horvath and Mr Jenkin after she warned him he could not come onto the property without a warrant.

When the officers returned later that night, Ms Horvath recalled hearing them banging on the door and screaming her name.

"All I heard was 'we want Corinna' — they said 'we don't need a f****** warrant'," she said.

Prosecutors said Mr Jenkin was not defending himself or a colleague when he repeatedly punched Ms Horvath, and his use of force was excessive and illegal.

His defence lawyer said Mr Jenkin had acted in self-defence and his use of force was lawful and appropriate.

The court heard Ms Horvath had a conviction for assaulting police, but she denied harbouring a hatred of them.

She had sued Victoria Police and the case was settled in 2014 after the United Nations Human Rights Commission issued a finding against the force.

Ms Horvath received a letter of apology from Ken Lay, who was the police commissioner at the time, and an undisclosed sum of money.

"I deeply regret what occurred and sincerely apologise for the injuries you suffered as a result," Mr Lay said.

Related Articles