Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Muslim woman has lodged an appeal after she was sentenced to six months in prison for falsely accusing a police officer of forcibly removing her veil

Carnita Matthews, a 46-year-old mother of seven, broke down in tears as Magistrate Robert Rabbidge described her crime as deliberate, malicious and ruthless. "There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew that the complaint she was making was false," he told Campbelltown Local Court. "The system would collapse, of course, if people are making false and wrong complaints to authorities." Matthews was charged with one count of making a false complaint against police in August 2010, after signing a statutory declaration claiming an officer forced her to remove her hijab, or face veil. It was made three days after she was pulled over by Senior Constable Paul Fogarty at Woodbine, in Sydney's southwest, for a random breath test on June 7, 2010. A video of the incident, which was played to the court, shows Matthews accusing the officer of being a racist after he handed her a fine for not displaying green P-plates properly. "You look at me and see me wearing this and you couldn't handle it. All cops are racist," she says. The Magistrate said highway patrol police faced an onerous duty in issuing fines to irate members of the public, adding an allegation of racism was serious and could jeopardize a career.

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