Interview with Terry O’Gorman in relation to compensation from police abuse of power

Today Tonight, Channel 7, 19 September 2011:

A bikini model and budding actress, who was unlawfully arrested, handcuffed and locked up by a police officer, has taken on the force and won.

Renee Eaves sued the officer and the police service, and represented herself in court.

After an eight year battle she’s won more than $90,000 in compensation.

Eaves is a bikini model, turned detective, turned lawyer, and she’s left the Queensland police force red faced.

And Barry Donnelly is the ex-cop and alleged stalker, who’s cost tax payers tens of thousands of dollars.

Donnelly was a Brisbane traffic cop who’s reach went far beyond law enforcement.

“He would ring my intercom downstairs in the apartment I resided in at the time, and neighbours would text me or call me and say ‘Barry’s down here, don’t come down’,” Eaves said. “He’d follow me around the city if I was in the Queen Street mall.”

As owner of Flirt Entertainment, a female dance troupe, Eaves’ distinctive car was hard to miss.

Donnelly’s infatuation allegedly first began in 2004 when he pulled Eaves over for a minor traffic offence. She says he kept her waiting in her car for more than an hour, and admits she became abusive.

“I gave him a lot of attitude,” Eaves said.

In return Donnelly paid her a lot of attention, pulling her over another seventeen times, once as a passenger for having a twisted seat belt

By now the mother of two was convinced his actions were not just outside the bounds of duty, but well and truly out of line.

The obsessive behaviour came to a head when Donnelly dragged Eaves from her home and into the Roma St watch house, accused of driving while disqualified.

“He slapped some handcuffs on me and dragged me down through the elevator, through the foyer, past all the people dining.”

Eaves then spent two and a half hours in a cell, sick and four months pregnant.

“I kept reiterating to him that I was pregnant and I really needed rehydration, and he just paid no attention to that whatsoever, he’d roll his eyes and just laugh.”

That was in March 2006. A magistrate found her not guilty of the charge, and so began Eaves’ battle for justice – determined to sue Donnelly and the Queensland police force for $200,000 in damages for wrongful arrest, harassment and intimidation.

“If I win, I’ll be lucky to cover my legals,” she said. “This isn’t about the money because the money is going to be chewed up.”

Civil liberties lawyer Terry O’gorman says “the police hate having to pay out money in court-ordered damages awards.”

“Here you have in effect a David and Goliath situation. David – in the form of this model, has taken on Goliath and won, and we say to people ‘don’t sit back and take cops abusing their powers, stand up for your rights’.”

To sue Donnelly, Eaves had to first serve him with a statement of claim. The Queensland police told her he’d gone missing, so she went looking for herself. She hired a private investigator and found him in just one day.

“When you go after the cop, you don’t just go after the cop you know. It’s big and it’s scary,” Eaves said.

Against all the might of a government legal team, Eaves represented herself during civil proceedings at the district court in Brisbane last month. After eight years, and at the end of a four day civil trial, the model was vindicated and awarded $93,000 in damages, plus costs.

“You couldn’t even put into words what they’ve put me through. It’s been an absolute circus,” she said.

“If I can stop one other person from being put through what he put me through, it’s worth it.”