An alleged incident of malicious damage to a NSW Ambulance vehicle occurred in the Grafton CBD on January 20, 2020.
An alleged incident of malicious damage to a NSW Ambulance vehicle occurred in the Grafton CBD on January 20, 2020.

Magistrate delivers verdict in lawful CBD arrest case

A GRAFTON man has been found guilty of assaulting two police officers during an arrest in Grafton’s CBD earlier this year, with a magistrate dismissing the man’s claims the arrest was unlawful.

Mitchell Murry had plead not guilty to two charges of assaulting police officer in the execution of duty, arguing their actions were unlawful.

Grafton Local Court on Friday heard the 30-year-old was at Dominos Pizza in Prince St, Grafton on January 20 this year when at about 7.10pm he began pestering one of the staff members who was about to go on a delivery for a lift home.

Murry prevented the employee from getting in the driver’s side door but after a while stepped aside and the employee left.

Two women at the store tried to intervene, and Murry began to abuse them saying that “bikies are going to get you, I’m going to slit your throats”.

The court heard that around that time a NSW Ambulance paramedic had parked his vehicle at the store to pick up a pizza, and Murry asked the paramedic for a lift home, but was denied. As the ambulance officer got back in the vehicle Murry tried to open the passenger door, banging on the window with two hands before smashing the passenger side window.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden said the evidence given by police on the previous occasion was that at around 7.15pm Senior Constable Colin Hadley and Senior Constable Michael Rheinberger attended the scene of the incident, where the ambulance officers had provided a description of the alleged offender when reporting the malicious damage

The evidence of Snr Constable Hadley was that the officers began patrolling the area where they found Murry walking on the footpath away from the area without a shirt on.

The court heard Snr Constable Hadley said Murry had matched the description given by the ambulance officer, and when he approached Murry he asked him to stop, and words to the effect of “we need to talk to you about what happened near Dominos Pizza”.

Snr Constable Hadley said Mr Murry looked at him then continued to walk away, and when he reached for Mr Murry’s left arm to prevent him from leaving the scene Mr Murry pulled away. Snr Constable Hadley told the court he had formed the opinion Mr Murry was not going to stop and tried to place him under arrest, which was when the assault took place.

Ms Crittenden said he accepted that Murry was not obligated to stop and chat to police, but she did not accept police weren’t entitled to ask Murry to stop and answer questions about the incident.

Based on the evidence Ms Crittenden said she was satisfied police had a suspicion based on reasonable grounds that Murry had committed an offence.

Ms Crittenden said it was the evidence of Snr Constable Hadley that the reason he took hold of Murry’s arm was because he had showed no intention to stop, and he wanted to get his identification in relation to the incident at Dominos, which is a permissible reason to make an arrest under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.

“I am satisfied under the conditions Snr Constable Hadley believed an arrest was reasonably necessary, and notwithstanding the fact he was asked to stop and chat first there’s nothing to find Murry was arrested solely for the purpose of questioning,” Ms Crittenden said.

“The importance of the evidence is that this interaction took seconds, and I am satisfied Snr Constable Hadley complied with all arresting requirements.

“I’m satisfied police were acting in execution of duty when they were assaulted, and I’m satisfied the prosecution has proven their case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Murry has previously entered pleas of guilty to four charges of stalk/intimidate intend fear physical harm and malicious damage and will be sentenced on Wednesday.

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