Police praise behaviour of NYE revellers

POLICE have praised the good nature of New Year’s Eve revellers who flocked to the region to welcome in 2009.

Only half a dozen people were arrested and charged with assault across the region.

Another 20 were charged with minor offences such as offensive language and urinating in public.
 “Things went pretty well,” Sergeant Jackie Lilley, of the Richmond Local Area Command said.

“There were no major incidents. This was due to the high visibility of policing around the area which kept incidents to a minimum.”

Police targeted the popular party areas of Byron Bay, Evans Head, Lennox Head and Ballina.

One person was charged with driving while under the influence in Coraki and another in Lennox Head.

In Byron Bay, police said about 10,000 people partied in the streets and on nearby beaches.

“Obviously it was a busy night with large crowds in the CBD, but they were generally well-behaved,” a police spokesman said.

It was the first year that Byron’s Main Beach was patrolled by lifeguards until 2am.

Stephen Leahy, Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator, said he was ‘amazed’ by the numbers on the beach.

“The lifeguards were busy, but there were no major incidents or rescues,” he said.

Byron Bay police arrested one man, charging him with three assaults within 40 minutes in the CBD. He appeared at the Lismore Local Court yesterday.

It was alleged the 19-year-old Lennox Head man was celebrating at Byron’s Apex Park with five mates when he confronted another group of males. After a short confrontation the teen kicked one of group in the head as he lay on the ground.

Ten minutes later the man began arguing with a group of teenagers, allegedly throwing one to the ground before punching him in the head.

The 19-year-old and his mates then approached another group and allegedly began another fight, punching a man in the jaw. He was arrested and charged with three counts of common assault.

Two Irishmen also faced court yesterday. It was alleged that after knocking on a door asking for a cigarette light, the duo refused to leave the house, punching one man who turned out to be an Australian Federal Police officer. The officer subdued the man until uniformed police arrived.
The other man was picked up soon after.

Ambulance officers also reported a ‘full-on night’, despite having two extra units in the area. “We were pretty busy, the ambulances went all night,” Byron Bay ambulance spokesman Wayne Lewry said.

Most call-outs were alcohol and violence-related, with calls to a dance party of 300 people at Bungawalbyn keeping paramedics busy.

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