Knife wielding ice addict 'lucky not to be shot by police'

A GRAFTON ice addict who was tasered when he allegedly came at police with a kitchen knife in each hand has been bailed to a residential rehabilitation facility in Sydney.

The decision to allow James Russell, 31, to enter the facility was made by Magistrate Robyn Denes in Grafton Local Court yesterday, despite strong opposition from the police prosecutor.

Russell is charged with resisting police, assaulting police, armed with intent, and assault occasioning bodily harm following an incident outside a Prince St address on June 18, in which it is alleged he struck a man with a glass beer bottle as he was buckling a young child into a car.

The pair allegedly came to blows before Russell retreated to his premises and returned with a baseball bat.

After police arrived he allegedly approached officers with two kitchen knives and threatened them.

When called on to drop the knives he did so but allegedly continued to advance on police and was tasered as a result.

In court yesterday, the police prosecutor said Russell was lucky police did not shoot him, as they would have "been justified" to do based on the alleged facts.

"This is a very serious example of violence, where he used not one, but two different weapons and threatened police with a third," he said.

The prosecutor said he believed being housed in rehab would not adequately protect the community from Russell, noting that the weapons used in the alleged attack may be available in the facility, where they would certainly not be available in jail.

But Magistrate Denes said she believed that, with conditions, his release into rehab was feasible and may mitigate to some extent his risk of further offending.

A report by rehabilitation program MERIT showed that prior to his arrest, Russell was using between 2-3 points of crystal methamphetamine a day, and had done so for the last three years.

It also showed a cannabis habit lasting 17 years, and said he had been using benzodiazapines for the last three years.

Yesterday, defence solicitor Greg Coombes told the court his client had not used drugs since his arrest in June.

Russell's case has been adjourned to Grafton Local Court on September 5.



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