Police are waiting on a crucial report which will reveal the cause of death for a 95-year-old great-grandmother who died days after she was allegedly Tasered by a police officer.
Senior constable Kristian James White had previously appeared in court via an audiovisual link, but bail conditions imposed by the NSW Supreme Court in July now require him to appear in person.
The 33-year-old wore a blue suit and a white shirt with large reflective sunglasses as he tried to avoid journalists waiting outside Cooma Local Court on Wednesday morning.
Accompanied by his partner, he stood blank faced outside the courthouse and refused to answer any questions as he waited to be allowed into the court.
He is facing charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault over his alleged “excessive use of force” against Mrs Nowland at an aged care home in southern NSW.
The court heard most of the brief of evidence against Mr White has been collected and served on his lawyers, with the exception of a pivotal report.
The court heard the prosecution were still waiting for the post mortem report, which will outline Mrs Nowland’s cause of death and health status at the time.
Magistrate Roger Clisdell adjourned the matter for four weeks to allow the report to be completed by the coroner’s office and served on both parties.
“The accused’s bail is automatically continued,” he noted.
The matter will return to court on October 4.
Mr White bowed deeply a number of times and thanked the magistrate before leaving the courtroom.
He remained tight lipped as he exited the courthouse and walked to the nearby police station, where he parked his car.
According to police allegations, the senior constable was called to Yallambee Lodge nursing home in the early hours of May 17 after Mrs Nowland was found entering the rooms of other residents.
She was allegedly grasping two kitchen knives as she wheeled her walking frame into the rooms of three residents and leant over their beds.
As staff tried to coax her from one of the rooms, police allege the 95-year-old threw a knife at one of the carers that landed on the ground.
The carers called the police for assistance, so Constable White and a female colleague were pulled out of their beds and recalled for duty.
Police allege Mrs Nowland had gone missing twice on the nursing home grounds before the officers arrived shortly before 5am.
They joined the desperate search for the great-grandmother and found her sitting in an office with a knife and a torch in her hand.
When asked to drop the knife, the court documents state she placed the torch on the desk before slowly standing up with the assistance of her four-wheeled walking frame.
The unnamed female officer allegedly said she could try to retrieve the knife in Mrs Nowland’s hand and walked towards the elderly woman.
But when she tried to approach, the 95-year-old allegedly took her hand off the walker slightly and pointed the knife at the officer.
According to the documents, Constable White activated the Taser’s warning device in response and pointed it at the chest of the 43kg woman.
“Clare, stop now, see this, this is a Taser,” he allegedly cautioned the great-grandmother.
“Drop it now, drop it, this is your first warning.”
Constable White allegedly lit up the device and initiated the audio before telling her “see, you are going to get tased.”
The dementia patient allegedly had the knife raised when Constable White said “stop just … nah bugger it” and deployed the Taser into her chest.
She fell backwards and struck “her head heavily on the wooden floor” of the nursing home, according to police.
Police allege Constable White reacted with “a grossly disproportionate response” by discharging his Taser at the 95-year-old woman in contravention of standard operating procedures.
An expert interviewed by police determined the incident did not meet the threshold of exceptional circumstances that justify deploying a Taser against an elderly or disabled person.
Mrs Nowland was found to have an inoperable bleed on her brain and died days later in Cooma Hospital. She is survived by eight children, 24 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
Mrs Nowland’s family said the allegations against Mr White were “extremely confronting and shocking”.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb has previously said the officer’s charges could be upgraded once the circumstances surrounding Mrs Nowland’s death were better known.
He remains suspended from duty with full pay.