http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensl ... -vnxn.html
The first police officer on the scene of a fatal alleged bashing by three Gold Coast bouncers did not check whether the victim was alive before he handcuffed him.
Senior Constable Benjamin Tonges told Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday he never touched Terii Tararo when he arrived at Fisherman's Wharf Tavern at Main Beach, in response to a violent clash between patrons and security, on May 18, 2008.
Three bouncers - Denis Legradi, 32, Morne Ricardo Lombaard, 30, and Naeroa Petera Tepaukouni, 37 - have pleaded not guilty to Mr Tararo's murder.
Senior Constable Tonges said he approached a group of bouncers restraining Mr Tararo, who was face down on the ground and did not appear to be moving.
He said he placed a handcuff on Mr Tararo after one of the bouncers positioned the man's arms.
When Mr Tararo's other arm was positioned, Senior Constable Tonges fastened the second metal cuff.
"Then I dropped the cuffs ... [his arms] just relaxed straight down," he said.
"At no stage did I have skin on skin contact with him. I only ever touched the handcuffs."
But under cross-examination by Mr Lombaard's defence barrister Damian Walsh, Senior Constable Tonges admitted the day after the death that when he handcuffed him, he had felt Mr Tararo "tensing up".
"If I said that ... there was just a resistance of weight, the weight of his arms," he said.
Earlier in the trial, bouncer Tanner Hibel gave evidence he was the bouncer who presented Mr Tararo's wrists to be handcuffed by Senior Constable Tonges.
He said he "felt resistance" when pulling Mr Tararo's arms up for the cuffing, which he thought indicated he was still alive at that point.
Senior Sergeant Bruce Diamond, who also gave evidence at the trial yesterday, said it was normal procedure to cuff unruly, violent hotel patrons first and ask questions later.
"Ninety-nine per cent of incidents I've been to in Surfers Paradise or at Fisherman's Wharf, when people have been restrained by security, the first thing police do is handcuff them," he said.
"It's a matter of public safety. I believed these people being held down [by bouncers] were high risk."
However, Senior Sergeant Diamond revealed Mr Tararo's death had been treated as a death in custody.
Asked by barrister Peter Nolan, representing Mr Legradi, if that would have been "an unpleasant experience" for him as the most senior officer involved in the incident, Senior Sergeant Diamond agreed.
"I wasn't concerned about that. It was quite clear what the police's role in this matter was," he said.
"I don't believe it was a death in custody."
Senior Sergeant Diamond denied a suggestion from Mr Nolan that Mr Tararo had been left, while handcuffed, lying face down on the ground outside the tavern because there had been no room for him in the police paddywagon, due to the man's obesity.
Senior Sergeant Diamond said the prisoners' area of the vehicle could seat five people, so fitting him in would not have been a problem.
The trial continues today.