Alleged police cell assault victim Yvonne Berry breaks down in Ballarat Magistrates Court

Yvonne Berry. Photo: Joe Armao.
Yvonne Berry. Photo: Joe Armao.

The woman at the centre of an alleged Ballarat police cell assault has broken down in tears while giving evidence to a committal hearing on Wednesday.

Yvonne Berry, a former police officer, told the Ballarat Magistrates Court she was assaulted by police officers in the early hours of January 15, 2015, after she was arrested for being intoxicated.

Crying a number of times during the hearing, Ms Berry said the assaults on her unfolded after her request for a blanket in her police cell was ignored.

She said she was handcuffed, kicked, dragged and forcefully thrown to the ground and, as a result, had bruises all over her body. 

“I was in a very bad way and I was very fearful of my life,” Ms Berry said.

She said she was stripped to nothing but her underwear and t-shirt, and was showered in hot water while handcuffed in those clothes.

“The water was extremely hot. A normal person would not have it that hot. It was burning my skin. I said to these guys, ‘you have to turn it down’,” Ms Berry said.

Two police officers Nicole Munro, 47, and Senior Constable Steven Repac, 27, face charges over the alleged incident. Repac is charged with two counts of common law assault, while Munro faces one count of the same charge. 

Sergeant Renee Hulls was one of two sergeants in charge on January 14 and 15, 2015. She told the court she recalled Ms Berry taking a lanyard and security pass from around her neck.

She said she asked Ms Berry to return the lanyard before Ms Berry charged at her and another police officer, trying to get out of the cell.

Sergeant Hulls agreed the situation was deteriorating and Ms Berry could not be contained. Ms Berry was sprayed with capsicum spray, which affected Sergeant Hulls’ eyes.

”I felt like I was fighting for my life,” Sergeant Hulls said. She agreed Ms Berry was violent, argumentative and changed demeanor quickly while in custody. 

The hearing continues on Thursday.