Race row woman avoids jail by remaining behind her burqa
THE Muslim woman accused of lying about police trying to tear her burqa off has avoided jail – because her identity could not be proven.
Carnita Matthews, 47, from Woodbine, in Sydney’s southwest, had been sentenced to six months in jail for making a deliberately false statement that a policeman tried to forcibly remove her burqa because he was a racist.
But judge Clive Jeffreys said yesterday he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was Mrs Matthews who made the racism accusation because the person who complained to police was wearing a burqa at the time.
The absurdity of the law is that, to reach the level of proof of identity to make the case, Mrs Matthews would have been required to identify herself by lifting her burqa at the police station – what started the uproar in the first place.
More than a dozen Muslim supporters linked arms and began chanting “Allah Akbar” as they stormed out of Downing Centre Court with Mrs Matthews concealed behind them.
Tempers rose and they began jostling with police after several members of the group attacked cameramen.
It marked a stark difference from their behaviour minutes earlier, when they had quietly assembled outside the lifts for prayer shortly after the judge’s decision.
Mrs Matthew’s lawyer Stephen Hopper defended their actions saying: “They are obviously happy with the result and are expressing it in a way that is culturally appropriate to them.”
Judge Jeffreys said yesterday that even if Mrs Matthews had made the complaint, he could not be sure she knew it was a “false” statement.
“I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she made the complaint,” he said.
“Even if I was satisfied that she made the complaint, I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was knowingly false.”
Mrs Matthews made the claim in her court appearance last year, saying police could not prove it was her behind the burqa when the complaint was handed in to police. The local magistrate rejected it.
The case had lit up the religious debate when a magistrate found Mrs Matthews had deliberately made false complaints that Sergeant Paul Kearney was racist and had attempted to tear her burqa off her face when she declined to remove it on request.
She was pulled over for a random breath test last June, and accused Sgt Kearney of racism only after he booked her for failing to properly display her P-plates.
The incident was captured on a patrol car video camera and helped clear Sgt Kearney, prompting calls for all police cars to carry in-built cameras to avoid false claims.
“I’ve got my P-plates on my car … there was nothing wrong with how they were displayed,” Mrs Matthews says on the video.
“You look at me and see me wearing this and you couldn’t handle it. All cops are racist.”
She then threatens, “100 per cent”, that she will take the matter to court and fight the charge.