A 2004 photo of Nathan Baggaley from his kayaking heyday.
A 2004 photo of Nathan Baggaley from his kayaking heyday. Barry Leddicoat

Former Olympian Nathan Baggaley fined for assault

FORMER Olympic Kayaker Nathan Baggaley has avoided extra jail time but copped fines after pleading guilty to resisting and assaulting a police officer at Byron Bay Bluesfest last year.

Baggaley, 40, who is currently serving a prison sentence for drug manufacture, faced Tweed Heads Local Court today.

The Casuarina resident smiled and waved at his family from the dock when be appeared in court today, looking fit and healthy dressed in a smart shirt and trousers.

Baggaley initially pleaded not guilty to assaulting an officer in the execution of their duty, resisting an officer in their line of duty and escaping police custody in April last year, after an incident at the festival on April 3.

The prosecution today dropped the charge of escaping custody.

Baggaley's barrister, former Supreme Court Judge Greg James, entered guilty pleas for the remaining two charges.

The court heard Senior Constable Kaine Schwartz was patrolling at Bluesfest about 4pm on April 3 last year when he heard a "commotion" from one of the festival's male toilets.

According to a police statement read out in court by Magistrate Michael Dakin, Snr Cnst Schwartz heard two male voices and one female voice coming from a closed cubicle, before what he described as "snorting" sounds.

The officer then identified one of those present in the cubicle as Baggaley, who was holding a mobile phone with "a line of white powder" sitting on its surface, before dropping it to the ground.

Snr Cnst Kaine then told Baggaley he was under arrest for self-administering a prohibited substance, the court heart.

Mr James told the court his client hadn't heard he was under arrest due to the noise emanating from bands performing "enthusiastically" on two nearby stages.

"Mr Baggaley says he didn't hear the officer saying he was under arrest," Mr James said.

When told to sit down, Baggaley squatted, before getting back up.

When the officer tried to hold him back, Baggaley reportedly slapped his hand away and pushed past him, knocking him backwards, Mr Dakin read from the statement.

Snr Cnst Kaine called for the assistance of other officers, but they were unable to find him in the festival crowd.

Mr Dakin said while the police officer had sustained no serious injuries from the incident, the circumstances of the matter gave it prominence.

"Bluesfest matters attract a lot of public attention, specifically in regards to a zero tolerance attitude towards drugs within the grounds of the festival," Mr Dakin said.

Baggaley was fined $2000 for assaulting and resisting the officer, with 28 days to pay.

The maximum penalty for the charges before the court today was five years' imprisonment.

Baggaley is currently serving a minimum prison sentence of two years and three months after being convicted on unrelated drugs offences in a Sydney court last December.



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