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A HEAVILY pregnant Sydney woman who says a police officer told her video showed her holding a phone while driving has had the charge dismissed.

Believing the footage would prove her innocence, Pamela Bonney began a nine-month fight to see the video that ended last Wednesday when a court determined there was reasonable doubt — due not to video evidence but because officers’ statements were inconsistent and implausible.

One officer said she had a black mobile to her ear, only for it to emerge that her phone was white. The other said in his sworn statement he had seen the phone but on the stand said he had not. No video came to light. It never existed.

Sydney criminal lawyer John Sutton

Camera IconPamela Bonney, pictured when more than eight months pregnant shortly after the incident. Bradley Hunter Credit: News Corp Australia

Last September, Ms Bonney was left in tears when Senior Constable Pablo Rojas stopped her car in Camperdown and alleged seeing her holding a mobile to her ear. She would tell Newtown Local Court the false accusation made her feel “irresponsible” to her unborn child.

In November, Ms Bonney contacted The Daily Telegraph for help obtaining the footage. She said Sen-Const Rojas “said he had video evidence. I asked to see it but was told I was not allowed.”

Before Magistrate Robert Williams last week, Sen-Const Rojas denied saying there was video. However, he did agree Ms Bonney asked to be shown footage.

Representing Ms Bonney, free at the request of The Telegraph, leading Sydney criminal lawyer John Sutton of Armstrong Legal put it to Sen-Const Rojas: “You told her there was video footage. You did so in an effort to convince her to pay the ticket.”

Sydney criminal lawyer John Sutton

Camera IconPamela Bonney, with baby Miguel, successfully challenged a use mobile while driving charge after police told her they had her on video but wouldn't show her. Credit: News Corp Australia

“I did not say that,” Sen-Const Rojas told the court. He went on to say he saw Ms Bonney holding a square, black phone to her right ear with her right hand.

Constable Daniel Richardson — who had been in the police car’s front passenger seat — told the court he observed Ms Bonney had a “startled look” on her face and did a “karate chop” from her right ear downwards.

 

Mr Sutton then gave Ms Bonney her handbag and she retrieved her phone. Mr Sutton asked her to hold it up so Magistrate Williams could see its colour.

 

Sydney criminal lawyer John Sutton

Camera IconSenior Constable Pablo Rojas pictured outside Newtown Police Station. Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Sutton put it to Const Richardson that his written statement did not mention a phone, “because you made an assumption she was on the phone.” Const Richardson responded: “I agree.”

Ms Bonney told the court she had been in a phone conversation when stopped. An incoming call had been answered automatically through her car’s integrated Bluetooth system, she said. “I didn’t have to touch anything,” she said.

When accused on the day, Ms Bonney denied handling her phone and suggested the officer may have seen sunglasses. In her evidence, she said Sen-Const Rojas “told me he had me on video”.

The court heard that after police left she rang her husband, before calling the Police Assistance Line. Asked why she rang PAL, Ms Bonney said: “I wanted to record the matter. I knew I wasn’t on my phone.”

Mr Sutton asked: “You desperately wanted to see that video evidence, didn’t you?

“Yes,” Ms Bonney replied.

Sergeant Maxine Gill put it to Ms Bonney her phone was black.

“It’s white,” she replied.

Mr Sutton then gave Ms Bonney her handbag and she retrieved her phone. Mr Sutton asked her to hold it up so Magistrate Williams could see its colour.

Magistrate Williams said Ms Bonney was “clear and concise”. He said there were areas of evidence relating to speed and time “which could not be plausible”. “The court must be satisfied ­beyond reasonable doubt. I am not satisfied,” Magistrate Williams said.

About 35,000 NSW drivers are fined each year for holding a phone, raising $10 million.

publicdefender@dailytelegraph.com.au

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