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The police officer who tasered a 95-year-old great grandmother before she died allegedly said ‘no, bugger it’ before firing the weapon, it will be alleged in court.
Clare Nowland, a dementia sufferer who weighed just 43kg, died at Cooma Hospital in southern NSW about 7pm on Wednesday from injuries sustained during the tasering.
Police were called to the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility after staff reported her wielding a knife in the early hours on May 17.
She approached officers with her walker while waving the serrated steak knife in their direction.
Senior Constable Kristian White, 33, was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault on Wednesday evening. Mr White is expected to fight the charges.
It is understood a female officer also responding to the call will not be charged but may face disciplinary action.
Senior Constable White has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault
Clare Nowland (pictured), a dementia sufferer who weighed just 43kg, died in Cooma Hospital in southern NSW at around 7pm on Wednesday, a week after being Tasered by the constable
‘I can take it (the knife) off her,’ the female officer said as the pair were locked in a stand off with Mrs Nowland, Nine News reported.
It is believed police will allege in court that at this point Constable White said: ‘No, bugger it’ before tasering the great-grandmother causing her to fall back and fracture her skull.
A senior counsel has told Daily Mail Australia that Mr White’s charges could be upgraded following the death of Mrs Nowland on Wednesday.
‘It would more likely be manslaughter,’ the senior counsel explained. ‘But it will be upgraded.
‘It could be murder. Murder requires intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.’
The barrister said a murder charge might be sustained if it could be proven the officer showed ‘reckless indifference to human life’.
‘It would need the foresight of the probability of death arising from the act,’ the silk said. ‘This is indeed an ideal case for that.’
‘This matter now is before the court and there’s little more that I can say about it other than to say that the Nowland family have been informed of this development,’ Commissioner Webb said after White was charged.
NSW Police Senior Constable Kristian White (pictured) has been suspended with pay
Mrs Nowland (pictured) died in Cooma District Hospital, in southern NSW, after she was Tasered by an officer a week earlier
Commissioner Webb added that her ‘thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Nowland and her family this evening’.
Mr White is due to appear at Cooma Local Court on Wednesday July 5, 2023. Of the charges he faces, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm carries a prison term of up to seven years, while being convicted of common assault could lead to up to two years behind bars.
He remains suspended from duty with pay.
Meanwhile, in the Sydney suburb of Heathcote, 380km north of Cooma, White’s firefighter father Keith cut a forlorn figure at his family home.
Keith and wife Heather reside in Heathcote, Sutherland shire and are heavily involved in the Rural Fire Service.
The elder Mr White has served as brigade treasurer since 1990 and is leading trainer and assessor in the Sutherland rural fire distract.
Kristian’s sister Mikaela works as a sports operations specialist at a private boys school in Sydney’s inner west.
The family bunkered down following the incident, refusing to answer questions when approached by Daily Mail Australia.
In the Sydney suburb of Heathcote, 380km north of Cooma, Mr White’s firefighter father Keith (pictured) cut a forlorn figure at his family home
Kristian White’s parents’ home in the southern Sydney suburb of Cooma is pictured
After Mrs Nowland’s death, the NSW Police issued a statement saying ‘It is with great sadness we confirm the passing of 95-year-old Clare Nowland in Cooma tonight (Wednesday 24 May 2023).
‘Mrs Nowland passed away peacefully in hospital just after 7pm this evening, surrounded by family and loved ones who have requested privacy during this sad and difficult time.
‘Our thoughts and condolences remain with those who were lucky enough to know, love, and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life she led hallmarked by family, kindness and community.’
The NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley also offered her sympathy.
‘On behalf of the NSW Government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Nowland family for the loss of their dearly loved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Clare Nowland.
‘Our sympathies and thoughts are also extended to the community of Cooma, Mrs Nowland’s friends, as well as the residents and carers at Cooma Yallambee Lodge.
‘We will continue to offer support to the Nowland family as they mourn this loss and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time,’ Ms Catley said.
Police Commissioner Karen Webb (pictured) said her ‘thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Nowland and her family this evening’
The Yallambee Lodge in Southern NSW where the Taser incident occurred is pictured
Commissioner Webb said ‘his employment will continue to be reviewed, but at the moment, he is still suspended from the workplace’.
She added that the charges against White could be upgraded. ‘It is possible. It depends on what happens,’ she said.
Despite international outrage over the incident, the Commissioner has refused to view bodycam footage of Mrs Nowland being Tasered.
She also declined to release the footage to the public, saying it ‘concerns’ her that people want to see it.
The police boss said she may have to review the video ‘as a decision-maker in this organisation… (but) I don’t see any value in reviewing that footage now when I don’t know… what else happened pre and post that incident.’
When she was asked again on Wednesday night why she will not release the footage of Mrs Nowland being Tasered, she replied ‘I’m not the investigator.’
Investigations into the incident continue.
Wednesday, May 17, 4.15am: Police are called to the Yallambee Lodge nursing home
Clare Nowland was standing in the kitchen with a serrated steak knife
A senior constable fired his Taser into the great grandmother’s chest and back
Ms Nowland fell backwards, striking her head on the floor and was taken to hospital with a fractured skull and brain bleed
Wednesday, May 17, 4.41pm: NSW Police release a statement saying a critical investigation had been launched after an ‘elderly woman sustained injuries during an interaction with police at an aged care facility’
Thursday, May 18, 3.47pm: First media report in Nine Newspapers that Ms Nowland had been Tasered
Friday, May 19, 9.57am: Police make first mention of a Taser in an official statement.
Friday, May 19, 11.30am: Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter, the Southern Region Commander, provides more details at a press conference at police headquarters
Saturday, May 20: Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she has no intention of releasing the body-worn police vision of the incident or even see it herself
Monday, May 22: Commissioner Webb defends the original police statement where the matter was referred to as an ‘interaction’ and left out the fact Ms Nowland had been tasered
Tuesday, May 23: Senior Constable Kristian White is suspended with pay. Police Minister reveals aged care worker has received death threats
Wednesday, May 24, 6.18pm: Police announce Senior Constable White has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault
Wednesday, May 24, 9.37pm: Police reveal Ms Nowland died in hospital about 7pm, surrounded by family and loved ones