Australian Police Found to be Misidentifying Victims of Domestic Violence

Image credit: M.W. Hunt

Poppy Morandin.


A Sydney Magistrate has heavily criticised NSW Police after a Sydney mother accused of assaulting her husband has had all charges dropped.

Police dropped two charges and the AVO against Claudia Mendez, 40, whilst her ex-husband Ross Aloisi, 41, was charged with 35 offences of domestic violence assault, including the same incident originally involving her.

During court, the officer in charge of Ms Mendez’s matter, Constable Adwan, confirmed that he did not view relevant footage, CCTV, or interview witnesses before charging the woman.

He also did not investigate her claims of coercive control at the hands of her husband.

The court heard of the hundreds of messages sent by Aloisi to her, including: “if you leave, I will get my dad’s hunting gun and kill you like a pig.”

“I just need you to be a woman and shut the fuck and do what I say as I am the man and the head of this table wether (sic) you’re a part of it or not.” he also stated in an email to her.

Constable Adwan commented that he did not see it as part of his investigation to look at those emails.

It took a 6-month long legal battle for the police to drop the charges and its associated Apprehended Domestic Violence Order.

Now, Aloisi’s dozens of charges include incidents dating back to 2015.

They include allegations of punching, hitting, shaking, and spitting on his ex-wife, as well as stalking her.

This is at it was revealed that a GPS device was discovered in the air vent of Ms Mendez’s car.

Recent research has found that almost half the women murdered by an intimate partner in Queensland had previously been labelled by police as the perpetrator of domestic violence.

Misidentification of victims has been found to be caused by: “racism, poor relationships with local communities, misogyny, and the patriarchal culture of the police service.”

They noted that police often viewed calls or complaints about domestic violence in isolation, rather than consider the context of ongoing abuse.

One woman told researchers how: “I was flogged to a point where I couldn’t even brush my own hair, couldn’t … lift my arm up.”

“The female officer … tried to talk to me but because I wouldn’t talk to her … she went and spoke to him. I was sent to the hospital too because of my injuries … but because I didn’t talk, that [domestic violence] order went out against me.” she continued.

A domestic violence offence is defined as an offence committed by a person against another person with whom they have (or has had) a domestic relationship by section 11 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW).

Furthermore, it must be considered a personal violence offence.

Personal violence offences include common assault, wounding or causing grievous bodily harm, sexual assault, sexual touching, destroying, or damaging property, strangulation, and breaching an AVO, among others.

A ‘domestic relationship’ can include relatives, married couples, de facto partners and even housemates.

Common assault, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, is punishable with a maximum penalty of two years in jail, pursuant to section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Actual bodily harm entails an injury that need not be permanent, but more than merely transient or trifling (R v Donovan [1934] 2 KB 498).

For an outline on the law on other types of assault not considered domestic violence, click on our article here on assault offences in NSW.

For legal advice on domestic violence charges, it’s recommended to speak with a domestic violence lawyer.

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