Witnesses tell court of danger

EVIDENCE of people throwing bottles at police, a police vehicle being gutted by fire and audio recordings of police being asked to leave the McNeill family's Yamba residence was given in the Valentine's Day Yamba riot trial yesterday.

Two civilian witnesses and Detective Sergeant Graham Burke gave evidence on the fifth day of the second three-week sitting at Maclean court.

Retained firefighter Robert Wiggett told the court he attended an incident where a police vehicle was on fire after being paged at 2.38am on February 14 last year.

He said he saw “a police vehicle on fire and just kids throwing things”.

Mr Wiggett said he waited for about an hour for the riot squad to turn up and take control of the situation before firefighters could extinguish the vehicle.

The second witness, firefighter Michael Roberts, told of seeing the police vehicle alight and a bottle being thrown, which landed one metre from him and a colleague.

A copy of an email from a witness that was sent to police containing corrections in his statement was tendered as evidence by Dylan McNeill's solicitor, Mark Spagnolo.

The corrections were never applied when he gave evidence this week.

When Sgt Burke took the stand he presented 10 audio and two video recordings taken from a mobile phone, which were subpoenaed by the prosecution.

“There is a map that indicates where the property is,” a voice said to police on the recording.

“You will see that you are actually on private property.

“I believe it is against the law to be on private property.

“Do you want to be on private property?” the voice asked.

“We sure do – to do our job. Otherwise we wouldn't be here,” Senior Constable Sidney Hill replied.

Prosecutor Bob Hanzic applied to reintroduce evidence from Sen Const Hill, the officer in charge at Yamba Police Station on the night.

Sen Const Hill's statement was excluded by Magistrate Andrews on the second day of the trial as he ruled it was signed a month after the incident, which was too long.

Mr Andrews declined the application, saying medical evidence supplied by the prosecution did not address the fact the officer was unable to give evidence in court due to illness.

The defence will begin its case when the trial resumes on Monday at Maclean court.

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