Carnita Matthews is a Muslim woman in New South Wales who was asked by a policeman to remove her face veil to identify herself during a traffic stop. She was later convicted by a magistrate for filing a false and malicious report of racism against the policeman, who she said tried to force her to remove her veil. She later won her case on appeal, on the basis that it could not be proved that she was the veiled woman who had filed the false complaint. Now she has added a new level of chutzpah to her actions by suing the government to recover her court costs.
A MUSLIM Â woman Â (?) Â who was at the centre of a legal case about the removal of her burqa is attempting to win costs.
Sydney woman Carnita Matthews launched her battle to win costs in the NSW District Court on Friday after successfully appealing against a conviction for falsely accusing a police officer of trying to remove the facial covering.
Ms Matthews was sentenced to six months in jail in November 2010 after being found guilty of falsely claiming the officer tried to remove her burqa during a traffic stop in Woodbine, southwest Sydney.
NSW District Court judge Clive Jeffreys overturned the conviction in June after ruling he was unable to conclude beyond reasonable doubt it was Ms Matthews who made the complaint – because the person who did so was wearing a burqa.
Ms Matthews’ lawyer, Stephen Hopper, told a brief hearing he would argue that his client should be awarded costs because the police investigation was conducted in an “unreasonable manner”.
He said he would also argue that the investigation was initiated without reasonable cause and that the case against his client was prosecuted in an “improper manner”.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Spohr is opposing the costs application.
The total amount of costs being claimed remains unclear.
Mr Hopper told reporters after Ms Matthews’ conviction was quashed that the costs sought would likely be “modest”.
The Matthews case led the NSW government to strengthen police powers to compel people to identify themselves.
Citizens are now required to remove burqas, niqabs or any other type of obscuring headwear when asked by police, or face a possible fine.