Cops' pensioner assault appeal rejected

Brad McLeod (right) and Florian Hilgart have lost their appeals over their assault of a pensioner.
Brad McLeod (right) and Florian Hilgart have lost their appeals over their assault of a pensioner.

Two police officers who assaulted a Melbourne pensioner during a welfare check have had their appeals rejected.

Senior Constables Brad McLeod and Florian Hilgart wanted Victoria's County Court to overturn their guilty verdicts for the assault on the victim at his Preston home in September 2017.

Judge Claire Quin on Wednesday rejected the appeals and re-imposed the same fines handed each officer when they were originally sentenced.

McLeod, Hilgart and another officer, Constable John Edney, between them pepper-sprayed, punched and hosed down the pensioner in his front yard.

His psychologist had called triple-zero over concerns about his mental health, saying the man was distressed and vomiting blood, but did not want to see anyone.

The victim, known as John, was found to be aggressive with the officers. But Judge Quin said the officers' actions were disproportionate.

"Any threat posed by him had passed, given he had been sprayed at the door with OC spray, had been pulled out of the doorway by six police officers, was on the ground on his side, trying to cover his face, had been beaten on the legs with a baton by one of the other officers," she said.

McLeod, who pepper-sprayed the victim and punched him in the stomach, argued he acted to protect himself, his colleagues and John.

"Smells good, doesn't it?" he told John after pepper-spraying the man.

Hilgart then sprayed him with a high-pressure hose while McLeod recorded it on his phone.

The judge said Hilgart made no attempt to explain what he was going to do and could not have been "oblivious" to the fact John was clearly distressed and not consenting.

"He had been positioned on the ground and handcuffed by a number of police officers. He is clearly in a distressed state, and kneeling on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back," Judge Quin said.

"Mr Hilgart administered the spray for no purpose other than the entertainment or humorous enjoyment of Mr McLeod," Judge Quin said.

McLeod was fined $3500 for unlawful assault, while Hilgart was fined $1000.

No conviction was recorded against any of the officers involved.

Edney, who repeatedly struck the man with his baton and stepped on his head, did not appeal his guilty verdict assault verdict. He was previously fined $1000.

Australian Associated Press