Attalla v State of NSW was decided in favour of Mr Attella, with Judge Taylor stating that, “The state’s concession in relation to the strip-search illustrates that the police officers have used a most invasive power without the slightest justification.”
The 2015 incident has recently been garnering media attention with police using the case in an internal report to “illustrate the organisational risk posed by unlawful strip-searches.”
On Tuesday, 24 March 2015 at about 3.30am, Mr Attalla was sitting on a stone wall in front of a church in Bourke Street, Darlinghurst, texting on his mobile phone when he was confronted by three police officers, and told that they suspected him of being in possession of prohibited drugs and proposed that he be searched.
Being a 53-year-old man with no relevant criminal record, and “minding his own business,” Mr Attalla refused to submit to a search, and was subsequently placed under arrest for “hindering police in the execution of their duty”.
After an on-the-spot search, which revealed nothing, Mr Attalla was taken by police wagon to Kings Cross Police Station and submitted to a strip search where, at the command of the two police officers, he was directed to remove his pants and underpants and squat, lifting his genitalia to allow inspection of the area.
When nothing was found, he was given a Court Attendance Notice (which was ultimately dismissed) for hindering police in the execution of their duty, and allowed to leave the police station.
Suing the State: The legal proceedings
After this humiliating experience, Mr Attalla came to us at Marocchi Law, and we ran the case for him, suing the State of New South Wales for wrongful arrest, and assault and battery by the police officers.
Shortly prior to the trial, the State conceded that the strip search was unlawful, and the most serious of the conduct about which Mr Attalla complained. After all evidence was presented during the trial, the State also conceded that the continued detention of Mr Attalla, after he was subjected to a search by Officer Price, was unlawful. Thus, the State conceded that it was not entitled to continue the arrest of Mr Attalla after the initial search, and to take him back to the police station.
The orders of the Court were therefore:
Judgment for the plaintiff in the sum of $112,387.67.
If you believe you might have a case of Wrongful Arrest, contact our team immediately on 1300 727 266 or Contact Us. Marocchi Law are Australia’s leading experts in this area of the law and will make sure you receive the full compensation you are entitled to.