Which case won?

The case for the police
  • This man was known to police for drug related activities, had “ice sores” on his face and was acting in a nervous manner after he was pulled over.
  • There were therefore reasonable grounds for the police officer to suspect that the man was in possession of a prohibited drug and so he was entitled to detain the man and perform a frisk search.
  • While being frisk searched, the man pulled away and resisted.
  • This was a serious matter and there was the possibility that the man might dispose of any evidence unless the officer took immediate action. In these circumstances it was reasonable for the officer also to conduct a strip search.
  • The actions of the police officer were reasonable and lawful and the location of the drugs in the man’s underwear should be admitted as evidence in the prosecution against him.
The case for the motorcyclist
  • The outside of my jeans around the genital area was never frisked by the officer. I was asked to unbuckle my belt so that the officer could check there was nothing behind it, but then without any warning he put his hands down into my pants.
  • Of course I objected to the officer doing this – this was totally out of line and far more invasive than what’s allowed as part of an ordinary frisk search.
  • But for the officer putting his hands down my pants, there would have been no reasonable grounds to proceed to a full strip search.
  • The law requires that, where reasonably practicable, a strip search should be conducted in a private area and not in view of any person not necessary for the search. In my case, the strip search was performed in full view of the public and no efforts were made to provide me with reasonable privacy.
  • The police acted unlawfully and any evidence about them finding a bag containing methamphetamine in my possession should not be allowed.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out
Case A Case B

Case B won. You were right!

How people voted
case a40%
case b60%

Expert commentary on the court's decision

Caitlin Drabble
Caitlin DrabbleLawyer
“The court determined that the gravity of the breaches of the law by the police officer meant that the evidence resulting from the conduct of the searches was inadmissible.”
Police officer’s “reasonable suspicion” originated from unlawful act

In the case Daniel Fromberg v R [2017] NSWDC 259, the District Court found in favour of the motorcyclist.

The court decided that the “reasonable suspicion” that the police officer had to conduct a strip search originated from his own unlawful act, of shoving his hand down the man’s jeans while he was only meant to be conducting a frisk search.

If the police officer had conducted a frisk search first, it is likely he would have detected the drugs and this would have amounted to a reasonable suspicion.

Evidence obtained by unlawful searches deemed to be inadmissible

Touching a person’s body is prohibited in a strip search. Additionally, no efforts were made by the police officer to provide for reasonable privacy. Rather, the strip search was conducted in public and in front of other officers whose presence was not necessary for the search.

The court determined that the gravity of the breaches by the police officer of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act (LEPRA) meant that the evidence resulting from the conduct of the searches was inadmissible. This meant that there was no evidence to support the prosecution case and the charge of drug possession against the motorcyclist was dismissed.

NOTICE: This article is accurate as at the time of publication and does not constitute legal advice. Please see our legal notices page for more information. Information related to coronavirus can be outdated very quickly.

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