Perth police dog shooting: lawyers to seek damages

Biggie, like a child for owner.
Biggie, like a child for owner.

THE lawyer representing the owner of a dog killed by an officer in Kinross this month has described her frustration at the lack of co-operation from police so far.

Biggie, a six-year-old staffordshire bull terrier, was shot dead by an officer who, police said, was responding to reports the dog had been acting aggressively in a Kinross park on November 2.

Biggie had escaped the yard of a Banksia Grove home with another dog Holly – its mother, who was returned home safely.

The animal’s owner, Pat Wharram, has sought advice from HHG Legal Group lawyer Nicole Young after viewing CCTV footage of his pet being shot in a suburban street. Mr Wharram does not believe the video showed Biggie acting aggressively.

Ms Young said they would be seeking damages.

They will argue the officer used excessive force in shooting the canine.

She said they would be somewhat hampered in progressing the case until an internal investigation into the officer’s use of the gun was complete.

Ms Young was frustrated with a lack of co-operation from police because they had not advised her when the investigation would be complete or given her any other information.

Ms Young accused them of failing to correct their initial claims to media and Mr Wharram that the dog had acted aggressively towards the officer.

“The police so far have been fairly non-responsive so I don’t know when we’re going to get the information we want and deserve,” she said.

“We’re not holding out any hope that they’ll admit liability in any quick way, which would be the nice and compassionate thing to do.

“(It’s been) poor, slow and inconsistent because they released a statement that was not truthful and they haven’t corrected it other than to say they’re doing an investigation. We want to make it clear we think there are good police, but this incident has been managed badly.

“Right now we’re concerned in working out how the erroneous information was conveyed and why it took the release of some private CCTV footage to get the police to acknowledge that their initial story was not correct – they actually haven’t even formally acknowledged that yet so we’ve got a way to go.”

The Weekender asked police how long the investigation was likely to take and if they were prepared for legal action.

The newspaper also queried if the officer had been stood down during the investigation.

A police spokeswoman could not comment.

“WA Police are currently conducting an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident and at this time we cannot comment any further,” she said.

Ms Young said they would look to settle the matter out of court but would take it to court if necessary.

She was very confident of a successful outcome for Mr Wharram, but unsure of how he could be adequately compensated.

“It’s hard – how do you compensate someone for essentially losing a child? You can’t really,” she said.

“The courts will make a decision when it comes down to it.

“They’ll make a decision about what adequate compensation is required.”

She said Biggie and Holly were like children to Mr Wharram and his partner Alena because they did not have children. “Pat’s been very affected and he’s a guy that doesn’t easily crumble, but he has crumbled,” she said.

Ms Young explained they may push for the sacking of the officer, but won’t know their exact approach until they know the result of the internal investigation.

They would be demanding an apology and compensation “at the very least”.