Three prosecutors advised against charging a man with assault after an incident at the Victor Harbor Police Station, but he was prosecuted anyway and acquitted after a trial, a court has heard.

Key points:

  • SA Police were advised not to charge Nathan Cross with assault after an incident while in custody
  • Charges were laid in 2017, but Mr Cross was acquitted in 2020
  • He is now suing SA Police and is seeking documents on why he was charged in the first place

Nathan Cross, 43, is suing South Australia Police in the District Court, claiming he was knocked unconscious by police officers who slammed his head into a charge counter in 2017.

Following the incident, Mr Cross was charged with assaulting police.

But after a three-year legal fight, he was acquitted of the charge in September 2020 when Victor Harbor Magistrate Sue O’Connor found the handcuffed man had not been a threat and some of the arresting officers colluded with each other.

The incident was captured on CCTV and tendered as part of criminal proceedings against Mr Cross.

It will now be used against police in the civil lawsuit.

The District Court today heard prosecutors advised against charging Mr Cross in the first place, but the trial went ahead anyway.

Nathan Cross walks from court after being acquitted of assault.(ABC News)

Andrew Carpenter, for Mr Cross, told the court that police had failed to hand over all documents, including anything relating to why the trial went ahead against advice.

“There were three prosecutors who advised that the matter should not go ahead but there was nothing in the disclosure that identified why it went forward,” he said.

“Now, my client has had the additional expense to request information that should’ve, ordinarily, been disclosed by the police about why the matter proceeded to trial despite all the prosecutors saying no assault ever occurred.”

Anthony Keane, for police, told the court that his client was unsure if the document being requested by Mr Cross actually existed.

“My friend is making a logical leap but at this point, it’s a leap,” he said.

“We’re content to go through the process of seeking any further documents.”

He also withdrew an application by police to put the civil case on hold until an internal investigation had concluded.

“Now that the stay, and the basis for that has fallen away, there’s no impediment in terms of talking to the individuals involved and getting it from the horse’s mouth as to whether anything has been disclosed,” he said.

The case was adjourned until March to allow police time to meet Mr Cross’s request for further documents about his criminal prosecution.