A youth worker who was dragged through court over assault allegations has been slapped with a $10,000 legal bill, despite the charges being dismissed.
Shaun Bartlett was stood down from his job at Ashley Youth Detention Centre after he was accused of using “excessive force” on two youths at the facility in July, 2016.
A year later, Mr Bartlett faced the Launceston Magistrates Court for a two-day hearing, after which Magistrate Sharon Cure dismissed the complaints against him.
Handing down her decision, Ms Cure said Mr Bartlett’s actions were “reasonable”, with the hearing told the youths had verbally threatened staff in the days leading up to the alleged assaults and been involved in a stand-off the night before.
It has been six months since the hearing and more than 18 months since he was accused, but Mr Bartlett has yet to return to work and has learned he will need to cover his own legal costs.
It is understood he is currently being “retrained” and participating in a return to work program and Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said the nearly $10,000 legal bill only added “insult to injury”.
“Here’s a worker that doesn’t earn a huge amount of money, who had to fight to get his job back. Now he’s confronted with a significant legal bill,” he said.
“His employer is the state government and it was the state government that ultimately prosecuted him. Whether there is a legal obligation or not, you’d think morally the employer would provide him with some support.”
An internal investigation was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services following the court decision, but the findings of that investigation have not been publicly released.
Mr Jacobson said the union was aware of the findings and had written to the department disputing them.
The department has been contacted for comment.