Thursday, 20 September 2007

Westfield Mt Druitt's security guards Stephen Henry and Guy Buschmann (pic) are accused by the family of a 36-year-old schizophrenic man, Koksal Akbaba, of using "undue force" to tackle and hold him down in August 2003.

Akbaba's sister, Banu Baran, translated words from Koksal's father outside the Coroner's Court today, as reported by Channel Seven. The story did not run on another network. The security guards told police they "thought he was a wanted man". Baran says he was "a gentle schizophrenic".

"He did nothing wrong. This is what we can't accept. He hasn't done anything wrong," said Baran. Witnesses told the coroner they saw Akbaba "go limp and die" when the two burly men "restrained" him. Henry did not appear at the inquest. "Can I ask why Steven Henry hasn't turned up today?" asked the Seven reporter. His lawyer did not reply.

It appears that Henry has a record of violence. He had "previously been convicted for assault, for kicking a ball in a toddler's face". He worked at the time for SECUREcorp. Going by the awards the company has won since its establishment in 1998, Henry and Buschmann seem to be exceptions to a rule.

But the death by "restraint related positional asphyxia" is not the worst part of the story. That must be the simple fact that no record exists on the Internet or in comprehensive database Factiva, about the death. Westfield spin doctors have worked hard to keep the news out of the media. And they succeeded. Kudos to Seven for airing the story.

Further damning evidence of obstruction of justice lies in the fact that security camera evidence was "missing for four years". It "finally found its way to court today," reports Seven. The footage was not tendered at the manslaughter trial of Henry and Buschmann. And again, there's no record anywhere of that proceeding.

Update (23 September): The Sun-Herald's Belinda Cranston reports on the hearing at Westmead's Coroner's Court, providing correct spellings, which I've included in the post above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the coverage on Sunday, 23rd September. Thank you for covering this topic, albeit on page 23 of the Sunday paper. I am, however, dismayed that the opinions of the perpetrators of this crime where printed first so that the reputation of this man whose photo accompanied the story, was tarnished. It was only towards the latter part of the article that the reason for the slur on Mr Akbaba was apparent ie so that the perpetrators could make themselves appear justified in their over-forceful handling of a mentally disabled person.