A couple dressed-up like Batman villains who were shot by police during a bungled 2017 raid have settled a multi-million dollar law suit against police.
Heavily-armed police were told their intended target was armed with a toy gun, but shot Dale Ewans twice in the back anyway during the doomed raid.
Mr Ewans had been in the process of performing a sex act on his girlfriend of just one month, Zita Zukys, when officers armed with machine guns opened fire on them.
On Wednesday, a barrister representing the State of Victoria – and Victoria Police – was forced to make a grovelling admission that police had shot her by mistake.
The couple, both in their 30s, is suing for damages and lost earnings from Mr Ewin’s injuries
‘The defendant acknowledges Ms Zukys was an innocent bystander who was injured through no fault of her own in the circumstances of the case,’ barrister Chris Blanden, QC said.
Mr Ewans was expected to take the stand of the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday to give his account of the doomed raid.
The civil trial was scheduled to go for about five weeks, with dozens of witnesses to be called.
The trial ran for just one day before the parties re-entered the negotiating table.
Although the actual agreement made between the parties remains confidential, the payout to the couple is expected to run into the millions of dollars.
Based on the number of barristers in court alone, the legal bill from a five-week trial would have soared above $5 million.
The confidential payout will come as an embarrassing slap-in-the face to Victoria Police, which had cruelly stood by its decision to accept no responsibility for the tragic events that transpired all the way up until today.
Mr Ewans and Ms Zukys, who are no longer together, declined to comment upon leaving the Supreme Court in Melbourne.
A day earlier, Ms Zukys’ barrister Craig Harrison, QC, had indicated his client had been reluctant to settle the matter out of court.
Outside of court, Mr Harrison refused to comment on the likely settlement figure.
‘Nice try,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Victoria Police knew it was in trouble a day into the trial, when Supreme Court Justice John Dixon declared it was obvious the gun was a fake.
‘That would be obvious to a five year old,’ he said.
Ms Zukys, 38, Mr Ewans, 36, were dressed up as Batman villians The Joker and Harley Quinn at Inflation nightclub in the CBD when police came in firing.
Ms Sukys was shot in the leg and Mr Ewins was shot in the back twice shortly before 4am when seven heavily-armed police officers stormed the Saints and Sinners event on King St.
Dale Ewins ( left, entering court on Monday) was in the process of performing a sex act on his girlfriend of just one month, Zita Zukys (right) , when officers armed with machine guns opened fire on them.
The toy gun police were warned was a toy when they stormed a Melbourne night club and shot its owner. The gun was bought from a $2 shop, had no trigger and no actual hole for a bullet to be fired from
The cop from the highly trained Critical Incident Response Team who shot Ms Zukys had been the team’s own weapons instructor.
He would later tell his commanders he had missed his intended target, whom had been armed with a $2 shop plastic gun.
The supposed firearm was handed around to barristers within the Supreme Court on Monday.
The plastic revolver, which did not even have a trigger, could be heard rattling from metres away.
This was the scene inside the nightclub after heavily armed police shot a man and his girlfriend at an erotic Melbourne costume party in 2017
Police who stormed that nightclub that tragic night had been told the gun was nothing but a toy and that a ‘Rotten’ tattoo across their target’s forehead was a fake – blokes with head tattoos concern police, the court heard.
Mr Ewans had made it very clear to security in the club that he was armed with a toy.
Security captured within the venue from earlier in the night showed him playfully waving it around at bar staff, who appeared non-fussed by the plastic gun.
The couple had enjoyed a drink as they watched strippers dressed as police officers perform at a nearby stage on level one of the club.
Radio conversations from the night between police and their commanders played to the court revealed officers had been well informed Mr Ewans’ firearm was a toy.
They had converged on the nightclub after a patron told some patrolling officers in the street that he had seen a bloke with what appeared to be a gun.
Those officers had already been inside Inflation twice that night and had been captured on CCTV dancing with some of the semi-naked patrons themselves.
Images from inside Inflation Nightclub after the incident were tendered as evidence in court
Officers watched the couple on live-streamed CCTV for up to 40 minutes while staff quietly moved patrons on.
Staff had told police Mr Ewans had not caused any trouble and that they were certain he was not armed.
One bouncer even offered to go upstairs and ask for the toy himself.
It was almost 4am when they decided to storm into the near pitch black area of the club.
Two of them were armed with machine pistols, one had a semi-automatic machine gun, another had a stun gun and one was packing a bean-bag blasting shotgun.
CCTV showed their torch light as they converged on the oblivious couple.
Police claim they shouted: ‘Police don’t move’, before Mr Ewans went for the toy.
They then open fired with hollow-tipped bullets, which literally ripped the guts out of the pair.
The bullets shattered Mr Ewans’ left shoulder and blew apart his stomach.
When Ms Zukys put her hand down to touch her leg, she felt its insides.
Vision from a Taser used to then stun Mr Ewans three times was played to the court.
Police who stormed that nightclub that tragic night had been told the gun was nothing but a toy
It displayed a scene of total chaos, with the terrified screams of Ms Zukys drowned out by the yelling of police.
Someone can be heard yelling it’s not a real gun.
None-the-less, an officer had admitted to then punching Mr Ewans so hard in the face up to three times that he broke his own hand.
Another officer then stomped on him because he claimed the near mortally wounded ‘target’ had tried to bite his leg.
The couple’s barristers claim it was an unlawful arrest of the most callous kind, one which saw Mr Ewans detained for three days while police worked to defame him.
Ms Sukys’ claimed her former boyfriend had been trying to button up his pants when police shot them.
When approached by the officers she assumed they had been more strippers.
Mr Harrison said she tapped Mr Ewans on the shoulder and told him to look.
Moments later they were shot.
Dale Ewins (pictured) and his partner Zita Sukys, both in their 30s, were shot by Critical Incident Response Team officers during a fancy-dress Saints and Sinners ball at Melbourne’s Inflation nightclub in July 2017
‘What the f**K have you just done … A simple hands up would have sufficed,’ she told her attackers
Ms Sukys’ claims the next she saw the toy gun was as an officer removed it from Mr Ewans’ back pocket and placed it on the ground next to him.
‘Quick put it on the ground and take a photo,’ she claimed an officer said.
Three hours after the incident, police called in media to brief them about the incident.
There police maintained the ‘offender’ had been armed with a gun.
Mr Ewans’ barrister Jonathon Brett, QC said police refused to reveal the weapon was a toy and suspects they went so far as to leak an image from Ms Sukys’ phone to Channel 7.
The photo showed Mr Ewans with the toy gun placed in his girlfriend’s mouth.
‘They’ve maintained (the gun was real) until now,’ he said.
Mr Brett said the arrest was ‘unlawful in every way’.
‘It was a catastrophic decision by police to proceed with this so-called plan,’ he said.
Mr Brett said the decision defied numerous police policies.
The court heard despite the CIRT team having two negotiaters at the scene, they failed to utilise them.
‘If it wasn’t so serious, it would be farcical,’ Mr Brett said.
Police stormed Inflation in Melbourne after being advised a man had a gun inside. Dale Ewans did have a gun – it was made of cheap plastic and the officers who shot him knew it
Mr Ewans spent three days under police guard in hospital before they were called off.
His barrister said it was false imprisonment.
All up, Mr Ewans is claiming damages on five counts of assault, false imprisonment and negligence over the bungled arrest.
He has already undergone six operations and has shrapnel from the bullets still inside his body.
Beforer Wednesday’s settlement, barrister Chris Blanden, QC maintained Mr Ewans pointed the toy gun at an officer.
He said Mr Ewans was told: ‘Police – on the ground, hands where we can see them.’
He further claimed Mr Ewans may have challenged officers because he was under the influence of MDMA and the drug ice.
Mr Blanden said police were worried Mr Ewans may have been a bikie and were not convinced the gun was a toy despite being told so by the bouncer.
He disputed the arrest was poorly planned and claimed police reports to the media on the incident had been truthful.
Mr Blanden blamed Inflation nightclub security for the incident because staff allowed the toy gun inside the premise against the conditions of its liquor licence.
Acting for Inflation nightclub, barrister Neill Murdoch, QC criticised police for carrying out the raid despite being told the gun was a toy.
He told the court a bouncer who had earlier inspected the toy rushed out and spoke to police commanders eight minutes before they decided to storm the building.
‘We say he was clear, confident and correct as to what he had seen and reported it. We dispute there was any doubt,’ he said.
On Tuesday, Mr Ewans is expected to be questioned about what he told his mother while still under police guard at hospital.
Police claim Mr Ewans told his mum he had only pointed the toy at officers because he thought they were more strippers.
It is a claim his legal team had hoped to have removed from the case.
In the end it mattered little.