Last month, 95-yo Clare Nowland was tasered by police. Now there are allegations of a 'cover-up'.

In 2008, great-grandmother Clare Nowland was filmed for a feel-good segment by the ABC when she decided to go skydiving for her 80th birthday. 

Her children had paid for the trip after she requested the adventure. In the footage, she can be seen with her cropped white hair, wearing a purple and pink skydiving suit, smiling as she sits strapped to an instructor in the plane, who tells her how fast the plane is climbing. 

The pair then leap from the plane and descend safely to the ground, met by cheers and laughs from Nowland's family. 

Last month, at 95 years old, Nowland's name made headlines for a different and incredibly disturbing reason, after she was allegedly tasered by police in a brutal incident at her nursing home. A week on from the incident, Nowland died in hospital.

The violence of the tasering shocked and angered her family and the wider community

Watch: Clare Nowland's family speak of their grief. Post continues below. 

Video via 7News.

Police were called early on Wednesday May 17 after Nowland, who has dementia, left her nursing home in Cooma, south of Canberra. She had been walking around the nursing home for a number of hours before police and an ambulance were called. 


When officers arrived on the scene, they found her holding a serrated steak knife that she had taken from the Yallambee Lodge aged care home. 

Nowland, who weighed 43 kilograms, was allegedly using a walking frame, holding the knife and approaching police "slowly". The police officers attempted to negotiate with Nowland to drop the knife, which she refused to do. 

Senior Constable Kristian White, who has spent over a decade working for the police force, then allegedly tasered Nowland, causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground. She was left with critical injuries, including a fractured skull and brain bleed. 

The 95-year-old died "peacefully" just after 7pm on Wednesday "surrounded by family and loved ones", NSW Police said in a statement. 

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with those who were lucky enough to know, love, and be loved by Mrs Nowland during a life she led hallmarked by family, kindness and community," the statement read. 

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley also issued a statement on behalf of the state government, offering her "sincere condolences to the Nowland family for the loss of their dearly loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother". 

"Our sympathies and thoughts are also extended to the community of Cooma, Mrs Nowland's friends, as well as the residents and carers at Cooma Yallambee Lodge," the statement read. 


"We will continue to offer support to the Nowland family as they mourn this loss and we urge people to respect their privacy at this time."

Now this week, a report has emerged. 

NSW Police have been accused of an alleged "cover-up" as per Australian Associated Press (AAP), after documents revealed mention of paramedics, a knife and a Taser were removed in their first statement about the tasering of Nowland.

A 71-word press release, approved by Police Commissioner Karen Webb, was issued 12 hours after Nowland was injured but provided little detail about her "interaction with police". 

Documents obtained by AAP under Freedom of Information laws say the statement was published after police reportedly slashed a much-longer draft that included several key details, including the use of the Taser.

Police did not publicly comment on the incident again until after multiple media reports emerged more than 36 hours after the tasering.

Clare Nowland. Image: Supplied.


In a press conference days later, Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter detailed how Nowland had a serrated steak knife in a small treatment room when she moved slowly towards officers and was tasered.

"She had a walking frame, but she had a knife," he said.

Commissioner Webb later defended the decision to omit mention of the Taser in the first press release. She denied police were hiding anything, saying the Nowland family deserved to learn about the incident via police, not media reports.

Former police minister Paul Toole in parliament alleged police had "covered up" the Taser use and urged his successor to take action. Police Minister Yasmin Catley said she was not aware of the draft press release and said the report should be taken to the police watchdog. 

Senior Constable Kristian Whit, who allegedly deployed the Taser, has since been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault. The most serious of the charges, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He has also been sacked. 


The Police Commissioner described the tasering as "a nasty incident" but maintained the investigation had been carried out properly and without being prejudiced.

"I am confident that this matter is before the court without interference," she said. 

Video footage of the incident, which has been described by Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter as "confronting" was captured by the officers' body cams and will now form part of the investigation being led by homicide squad detectives. 

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas earlier said that police should not be using Tasers on vulnerable people experiencing dementia or a mental health crisis. 

Dementia Australia have also spoken out, saying the organisation has received calls and emails from family members and carers expressing their anger at the treatment of people living with dementia in Australia and reporting their sadness for Nowland and her family. 

White is due to appear at Cooma Local Court on July 5.

This article was originally published on May 19, 2023, and has since been updated with new information. 

- With AAP. 

Feature Image: Facebook. 

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