Home | Radio+TV | News | Officer charged after 95-year-old Clare Nowland dies in hospital
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb announced that 33-year-old senior constable Kristian White was charged for allegedly tasering Clare Nowland last week. Picture: Adam Yip/News Corp Australia.

Officer charged after 95-year-old Clare Nowland dies in hospital

The NSW police officer who allegedly tasered 95-year-old Clare Nowland has been charged after the beloved great-grandmother died in Cooma Base Hospital last night.

Last Wednesday, two Monaro Police District officers were called to Yallambee Lodge in the Snowy Mountains at 4 am after staff reportedly found Ms Nowland with a serrated knife.

According to the police, Ms Nowland approached the pair 'slowly' using a walking frame, after which senior constable White allegedly deployed a taser.

Ms Nowland died yesterday evening after receiving end-of-life care in hospital with a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed resulting from the fall.

Senior police officer Kristian White was charged with common assault, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Earlier this week, senior constable White was suspended from duty with pay.

Clare Nowland. Picture: Supplied.

74-year-old Dementia Australia advocate, Bobby Redman, said the incident was 'appalling and horrifying.'

Like Ms Nowland, Ms Redman also lives with dementia.

"There's fear that similar violence could happen to any of us," she said.

"When I'm distressed or anxious, I don't often understand what people say to me."

People living with dementia undergo perceptual changes that can impact the way they perceive reality and understand the world around them.

As the condition progresses, more tissue in the brain is affected, leading to misconceptions, hallucinations, time-shifting and delusions.

Ms Redman said it was highly likely that Ms Nowland did not understand what was happening. 

"The incident proved there's a desperate need for better training of care staff, nurses, doctors, paramedics, and the police," she said.

"With better training, this could and should have been avoided.

"But even without training – common sense and decency – a room full of people should've been able to tell him to deal with this differently."

Greens Parliament Member Sue Higginson said the charging of senior constable White was 'a step in the right direction.'

Last weekend, Ms Higginson asked the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) Chief Commissioner, Peter Johnson, in a letter to conduct the investigation separately from the police.

The investigation is currently led by NSW Police Homicide Squad and the Professional Standards Committee, supervised by the LECC.

"It's time to question the force's integrity and accountability," Ms Higginson told Aged Care Insite.

"Especially concerning older and vulnerable members of the community.

"Because the video evidence clearly shows that the action taken was inappropriate and wrong."

Ms Higginson said the incident proved that the current system of 'police investigating police' was lacking effectiveness and accountability.

She said Commissioner Karen Webb had 'not responded to the seriousness of the matter as the community would expect.'

In a recent media statement, Commissioner Webb announced that legal proceedings had been made against senior constable White.

Commissioner Webb expressed her condolences to the Nowland family and said they'd been informed about the most recent developments.

She said that while the incident had been 'traumatic for everyone in the police force', the community could continue to depend on their service.

"The community of NSW have trust in their police, and this is one incident out of many calls for service we respond to," Commissioner Webb said.

But Ms Higginson said faith had been lost after the incident and called for an independent review of the NSW police. 

She recommended the instalment of an autonomous body to evaluate police misconduct, including using defensive weapons.

"This should be a turning point in policing practices in NSW," Ms Higginson said. 

"We need to change our approach and ensure that these situations won't happen again."

Members of Yallambee Lodge in Cooma, Snowy Mountains, have been actively cooperating with the ongoing investigations.

The Monaro Local Council has provided trauma counsellors to support residents and the aged care facility staff.

NSW Police said Mr White will appear at Cooma Local Court on July 5.

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  1. Dr Susan Bardy

    I am a retired registered nurse specialising in Palliative care.
    My first though upon hearing the news about this episode was wondering why the nursing staff at Cooma needed to call the police.In a long nursing career I faced several incidents with confused patients who quite often physically hurt me. I never for a minute would have considered involving police visit to help me.
    Fellow staff members supported me every time and I had knowledge of how to approach the patient also, to try and sort out the problem.

    • The Nursing Home and responsible staff should be charged as well for failing their duty of care that resulted in such a tragic event. They are well trained on how to handle such situation, where Police don’t. Poor Police Officer who suffers the consequences of his action, a matter beyond his understanding.

  2. As an RN and previously as a VET sector trainer, I am incredibly angry about what happened to this lady. Staff training is the key to solving most of these issues. There are so many ways well trained staff could have de-escalated this situation without calling the police. Paramedics might have been a better option but I am sure the way it was reported to triple 0 would have been the deciding factor re who to send. It is appalling that we don’t have staff well trained enough to deal with a situation like this. I know as a trainer that there is so much information we can and do share from real-life experiences dealing with frail, elderly residents living with dementia. I can only hope that the department has already launched an investigation into the training in this RACF.

  3. I am appalled and so saddened at the loss of this person’s life at the reckless hands of this police officer. What a sorry state of affairs we find aged care to be in. As per the previous comment by Dr Bardy, in my 47 years of nursing I also, have never had the need to call the police to assist my management of a Dementia client. Yes, we need police support in Emergency Departments for the behaviours of drug affected and Psychotic clients and we are grateful for that assistance but the thought of an aged person being tasered!!!!!
    What next… bullets??

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