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Man bashed in police anti-terror raid gets $400,000

A young Melbourne man who was tethered with cable ties, slammed into a fridge and beaten by police during a counter-terrorism raid has been awarded $400,000 compensation.

In a searing judgment, Supreme Court Justice Melinda Richards says the money is not sufficient to bring home the "enormity of the abuse of power" that occurred when police stormed Eathan Cruse's home in 2015.

Mr Cruse was 19 when he was arrested over suspicions he had been involved in plotting to behead a police officer on Anzac Day in 2015. He was never charged.

Eathan Cruse, left, outside the Supreme Court in July.

Eathan Cruse, left, outside the Supreme Court in July. Credit:AAP

He sued the state of Victoria over the beating and on Tuesday was awarded $400,000.


The arrest was unlawful and the force used against Mr Cruse was "not necessary and reasonable", Justice Richards ruled.

"I do not consider that amount [which totalled $400,000] is sufficient to bring home to the state of Victoria and Victoria Police the enormity of the abuse of power that occurred here," she said.

Justice Richards has referred the officers from tactical units in Victoria and NSW to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission for a criminal investigation.

"The last few years have been rough. I am so happy that the judge believed me and the police have been held accountable," Mr Cruse said.

Mr Cruse, who is now 23, woke to loud banging in the early hours of April 18 and heard his parents screaming. He said he dropped to the floor when confronted by a police officer and did not resist arrest in any way - he was too scared.

He told the officer his name, to which the policeman replied "this is the one" and hit Mr Cruse in the head, the court heard.

"It just felt like they were just out to hurt me. It just kept going on and on," Mr Cruse said.

After he was cuffed with cable ties, Mr Cruse was hit on the head. He was then slammed into a fridge and was hit on his face, head, neck and upper body while he lay on the kitchen floor.

One officer told him there was more to come.

As they walked him out the front door, a policeman twisted his wrist and said 'Don't say a f---ing word', the court was told.

"Their conduct was a shocking departure from the standards set for police officers by Parliament and expected of them by the community," Justice Richards said.

Mr Cruse's parents, two sisters and two brothers were home at the time. His youngest brother was 3.

His did not suffer permanent damage from his injuries, but the court found he has untreated major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Cruse came to the attention of authorities because of his friendship with Numan Haider, who was shot dead after stabbing police outside Endeavour Hills police station in 2014. Police claimed Mr Cruse was an extremist and planned to travel to the Middle East to fight.

Sevdet Besim, an associate of Mr Cruse's, was the primary target of the investigation dubbed Operation Rising.

Besim was later jailed for the failed Anzac Day beheading plot.

Justice Richards found police did not have reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Cruse had committed terrorism offences.

Mr Cruse, who is Aboriginal, was awarded $200,000 for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, $100,000 for exemplary damages and $80,000 for aggravated damages.

Justice Richards found him to be a truthful witness, while she found some of the evidence from the police officers was not credible.

Mr Cruse's lawyer Jeremy King, from Robinson Gill Lawyers, said the case was a prime example of why there needed to be an independent body to investigate police. Mr Cruse complained to Victoria Police's professional standards command but his complaint was not substantiated.

"It shouldn't take for someone to have to go to the Supreme Court," Mr King said.

Patrick Warner from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service said the "case shows police should not be investigating each other's misconduct".

Tammy Mills is a Crime Reporter for The Age.

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