DAMAGE: Pit crew members look at the damage caused by a rock thrown through the back windscreen of the rally car driven by Steven Shepheard and co-driver John McCarthy.
DAMAGE: Pit crew members look at the damage caused by a rock thrown through the back windscreen of the rally car driven by Steven Shepheard and co-driver John McCarthy. Jay Cronan

Rock throwers may never be caught

REPCO Rally organisers and police yesterday stood by claims fringe anti-rally protesters disrupted the rally with obstructive tactics.

Recent media reports seemed to suggest rally chairman Garry Connelly no longer believed a fringe group used boulders to block the route or threw rocks at passing rally cars at Byrrill Creek. However, in a statement released yesterday Mr Connelly made it clear he was standing by the original claims.

Mr Connelly said a security marshal had been told by fringe protesters of plans to throw rocks at the rally cars shortly after the first car set off from Byrrill Creek.

Along the rally route drivers encountered two sets of boulders and a protester reading an anti-rally statement in the middle of the road, Mr Connelly said.

One car, he said, struck stock fencing, which appeared to have been dragged onto the road.

Mr Connelly reaffirmed the claim Steven Shepheard's car was damaged by a rock, thrown on day three.

“Although the perpetrators are yet to be found, Rally Australia had never claimed they were members of the official No Rally group,” he said.

Superintendent Michael Kenny said fringe protesters had admitted to the police they had used boulders to block the route at Byrrill Creek, but denied the throwing of rocks.

“The boulders were positioned in such a way that if you missed one you would hit the other. It was extremely dangerous,” he said.

Supt Kenny said there were two groups of protesters hiding in the bushes on the rally route and there were eyewitnesses to the rock throwing.

“People were yelling to the marshals that rocks were being thrown,” he said.

The reports triggered the rally being shut-down.

Supt Kenny said they had photographs of the people suspected of being responsible, but were unable to identify them.

“We may never be able to deal with who was responsible,” he said.

Spokesperson for the No Rally group Dr Fiona McCormick said it was pleasing Mr Connelly had acknowledged the group's protest was peaceful. However, media reports had led to attacks on group members she said.



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