Tweed Byron Local Area Command new Commander: Superintendent Wayne Starling
Tweed Byron Local Area Command new Commander: Superintendent Wayne Starling Scott Powick

FRENZIED ATTACK: Policewoman concussed in roadside assault

UPDATE, 1.45PM: THE policewoman assaulted yesterday on Gulgan Rd near Uncle Toms Pies blacked out and struck her head on the road following the unprovoked attack.

The 38-year-old man charged over the assault was initially approached by police over concerns for his own safety following several triple-0 calls from motorists about his unpredictable behaviour walking along the side of the 80km/h road.

"What was strange about the male's behaviour was he was running in and out of traffic on Gulgan Rd and he was putting himself at risk and other road users at risk," Tweed-Byron Superintendent Wayne Starling said.

"Police approached this man, and tried to get him off the roadway for his own safety."

"They tried to talk him down (but) he was very agitated.

"He started to become violent and he struck out at the police woman... and struck her several times to the head.

"She's utilised her capsicum spray to try to defuse the situation, it had no impact on the fellow. The male continued to punch the police woman about the head."

The male police officer at the scene then tasered the man with no impact, but he was able to engage the offender for long enough for the police woman to get out of arms reach.

"The police woman staggered away, and just after she staggered away she collapsed to the roadway and hit the back of her head on the roadway," Supt Starling said.

It was just as the male officer started to tire that a group of locals came forward to help.

Supt Starling reiterated his thanks for their support.

"Every one of those members of the public including the ladies that went to assist the police woman after she collapsed were exceptional.

"They put their safety at risk to protect their police. It's just a remarkable thing to see in a local community."

After the assault, the police woman was treated at nearby Uncle Toms Pies before being transported to Byron hospital.

 "Whilst she has a lot of swelling around the face, and headaches, that seems to be the worst of it," Supt Starling said.

The male police officer also suffered cuts and bruising.

Supt Starling said police strongly believe the man had a mental illness or was high on cannabis.

Officers located "about a pound" of what they believe was cannabis the man's backpack following his arrest.

Supt Starling said police "couldn't win" under the circumstances.

"Unfortunately the bloke was not with it… he just wasn't well," Supt Starling said.

"And as a result the situation escalated beyond the control of the police.

 "The police acted professionally they just couldn't do any more… you were damned if you do you were damned if you don't.

"If you left him running in the middle of the roadway, the fellow would have been killed and someone would have had to live with that for the rest of their life."


UPDATE, 10am: Tweed/Byron Local Area Command Superintendent Wayne Starling has condemned an attack on two police officers yesterday, but said the bravery of four people who helped to prevent a greater tragedy.

"Police come to work every day to protect the community… but members of the public put police safety before their own," Supt Starling said.

He said it was heartening to see the public come to the aid of the female and male officers who were being assaulted.

Supt Starling said one of those who came to their assistance was believed to be a man in his 80s.

"It's just an incredible, close-knit community here," he said.

Supt Starling said the female officer, who was allegedly punched before her head hit the road, had been released from Byron Bay Hospital and was recovering at home.

The man charged with their attack, who was found inside a light aircraft at Tyagarah Airfield shortly beforehand, allegedly continued his assault after police used capsicum spray and a Taser.

"The only last resort they had was to use a firearm," he said.

He was unsure whether the alleged attacker was affected by drugs, but said they were concerned for the man's welfare.

He urged those who helped the officers to visit Byron Bay Police Station so they could be recognised.


ORIGINAL STORY: A POLICE woman was allegedly punched in the face and head several times after she tried to restrain a man at Brunswick Heads yesterday.

Police were told about 2pm yesterday a man was found by an airport employee sitting inside a light aircraft at Tyagarah Airfield, near Brunswick Heads.

The man later left the scene and police from Tweed / Byron Local Area Command were contacted and began patrolling for the man.

Two officers found him about 5pm, walking along Gulgan Rd.

They tried to speak with him, but were forced to use capsicum spray after the man allegedly became violent and resisted police attempts to move him off the road.

The man ran away from the officers and allegedly punched a senior constable in the face and head several times after she attempted to restrain him.

The man continued to struggle and was tasered by another senior constable without effect.

Four members of the public saw what was happening and came to the officers' assistance before more police arrived.

A 38-year-old man was arrested and taken to Byron Bay Police Station where he was charged with several offences including:

- Assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon police officer;

- Assault police;

- Resist police;

- Hinder police (x2);

- Possess prohibited drug; and

- Enter enclosed lands.

The man was refused bail to appear before Byron Bay Local Court today (Friday 6 May 2016) and further charges are expected to be laid in relation to the incident at Tyagarah Airfield.

The police woman who was punched suffered bruising and swelling to her face, head and chest.

She was taken to Byron Bay Hospital by paramedics for treatment and was later released.

Another senior constable suffered a cut to his ear and soreness to his chest.

Tweed / Byron Local Area Commander, Detective Superintendent Wayne Starling, said the actions of the members of the public during this incident were commendable.

"I'm heartened by the community support these four men offered the police and I would like to personally thank them for coming to the assistance of my officers," he said.

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