Charges against the police officer who tasered the 95-year-old grandmother after her death on Wednesday night could be upgraded to murder, a senior barrister has revealed.
Claire Nowland, a dementia sufferer who weighed just 43kg, died surrounded by her family at Cooma Hospital in southern NSW at around 7pm on Wednesday.
Senior Constable Christian White, a 33-year-old grandmother, was tased at Yallambee Lodge Age Care Home in southern NSW on May 17, suffering a brain haemorrhage in the incident.
White has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, causing actual bodily harm and common assault on Wednesday evening.
Hours later, Ms Noland was pronounced dead – with a leading Sydney barrister with decades of experience in the criminal justice system suggesting White’s charges could be upgraded to manslaughter or manslaughter.
Meanwhile, in the Sydney suburb of Heathcote, 380 kilometers north of Cooma, White’s firefighter father Keith cut a forlorn figure at his family home.
Claire Noland (pictured), a dementia sufferer who weighed just 43kg, died at Cooma Hospital in southern NSW at about 7pm on Wednesday, a week after being tased by a police officer.
Senior Constable Christian White (pictured left) has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault.
Keith and wife Heather live in Heathcote, Sutherlandshire and are involved with the Rural Fire Service.
Elderly Mr White has served as brigade treasurer since 1990 and is lead trainer and assessor at Sutherland’s rural fire brigade.
Christian’s sister Mikaela works as a sports operations specialist at a private boys’ school in Sydney’s inner west.
The family played down the incident, refusing to answer questions when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
Now, a senior counsel has told Daily Mail Australia that White’s charges could be upgraded following Ms Nowland’s death.
‘It could possibly be murder,’ explained the senior lawyer. ‘But it will be upgraded.
‘It could be murder. Murder requires intent to cause grievous bodily harm.’
The barrister said the manslaughter charge could be upheld if a ‘reckless indifference to human life’ was proved.
‘It requires the foresight of the possibility of death from the act,’ said Silk. ‘It’s actually a perfect case for him.’
In the Sydney suburb of Heathcote, 380km north of Cooma, White’s firefighter father Keith (pictured) cut a forlorn figure at his family home.
Pictured is the southern Sydney suburb of Kuma, the home of Christian White’s parents
Ms Nowland confronted White at an aged care facility last week.
He was holding a steak knife and using a walker when White shot him with a Taser.
Mrs Nowland fell backwards, suffered a brain haemorrhage and was taken to hospital on life support.
After White was charged Wednesday, the commissioner addressed the Webb media.
‘I can say little more about this than to say that the matter is now before the courts and the Nowland family have been informed of this development,’ he said.
Commissioner Webb added that his ‘thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Nowland and her family this evening’.
White will appear in Cooma Local Court on Wednesday July 5, 2023 The charges he faces for recklessly causing grievous bodily harm carry up to 10 years in prison
A conviction for actual bodily harm carries a jail term of up to seven years, while a conviction for common assault carries a jail term of up to two years.
Police Commissioner Karen Webb (pictured) said ‘her thoughts and prayers are with Ms Nowland and her family this evening’
NSW Police Senior Constable Christian White (pictured) has been suspended with pay
The officer has been suspended with pay.
Following Ms Noland’s death, NSW Police issued a statement saying ‘It is with great sadness that we can confirm the death tonight (Wednesday 24 May 2023) of 95-year-old Claire Nowland in Cooma.
‘Mrs Nowland passed away peacefully in hospital just after 7pm this evening, surrounded by family and loved ones who have requested privacy at this sad and difficult time.
‘Our thoughts and condolences are with those who got to know, love and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life marked by family, kindness and community.’
NSW Police Minister Yasmin Cattle also offered her condolences.
‘On behalf of the NSW Government, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Nowland family on the loss of their beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother Claire Nowland.
‘Our sympathies and thoughts extend to Cooma, Mrs Nowland’s friends as well as the residents and carers of Cooma Yallambi Lodge.
Ms Catley said: ‘We will continue to support the Nowland family as they grieve this loss and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time.’
Ms Noland (pictured) died at Cooma District Hospital in southern NSW, a week before she was Tasered by an officer.
Yallambee Lodge in southern NSW is pictured where the Taser incident took place
“His employment will continue to be reviewed, but at this time he has been terminated,” Commissioner Webb said.
He added that the charges against White could be upgraded. ‘It is possible. It depends on what happens,’ she said.
Despite international outrage over the incident, the commissioner refused to view Ms Nowland’s bodycam footage.
He also refused to release the footage to the public, saying it made him ‘worry’ that people would want to see it.
The police boss said that as a decision maker in this agency he might have to review the video… (but) I don’t see the value in reviewing the footage now when I don’t know… what else happened before the post of the incident.’
When asked again on Wednesday night why he would not release the footage of Ms Nowland being tasered, he replied ‘I’m not an investigator.’
Investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Timeline of Claire Nowland being tasered by officers
Wednesday, May 17, 4 a.m.: Police were called to Yallambi Lodge Nursing Home
Claire Nowland stood in the kitchen with a serrated steak knife
A senior constable fired his Taser into the grandmother’s chest and back
Ms Noland fell backwards, hitting her head on the floor and was taken to hospital with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
Wednesday, May 17, 4.41pm: NSW Police released a statement saying ‘a critical investigation has been launched after an elderly woman was injured while interacting with police at an aged care centre’.
Friday morning, May 19: Community advocate Andrew Thaler told Daily Mail Australia that Ms Nowland was now receiving end-of-life care in hospital.
Saturday, May 20: NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she had no intention of releasing or seeing the body-worn police view of the incident.
Monday, May 22: Commissioner Webb defended the original police statement which referred to the matter as an ‘interaction’ and ruled out that Ms Nowland had been Tasered
Tuesday, May 23: Senior Constable Christian White was suspended with pay. An elderly care worker has received death threats, the police minister has revealed
Wednesday, May 24: 5.30pm White charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault
6.50pm Commissioner Webb said charges against White could be upgraded. ‘It is possible. It depends on what happens,’ she said
Claire Nowland died at Cooma Hospital, surrounded by family, at 7pm