Shot fired as suspect flees

Tabulam police officers Constable Steve Buchanan (left) and Sgt Grant Martin leaving the Lismore Courthouse.
Tabulam police officers Constable Steve Buchanan (left) and Sgt Grant Martin leaving the Lismore Courthouse. Ross Irby

WITH the coppers hot on his tail Christopher Smith ran from the Drake Hotel into the darkness along a rocky creek bed refusing to obey police calls to stop.

When Sgt Grant Martin fired off a shot at him Smith plunged into the water and was spotted doing backstroke in the creek still trying to escape.

Smith, 38, a labourer from Tabulam, eventually surrendered wet and exhausted and was arrested over an outstanding warrant.

In the Lismore Local Court last Thursday, Smith at first pleaded not guilty to two charges of assaulting Sgt Martin at 9.30pm on August 15 last year; and resisting police.

Sgt Martin said that at the time he feared Smith was carrying a gun, but a later search had failed to find one.

Smith said he knew tactical response officers were in town after him, but there were also two brothers after him and he feared it could have been ‘pay back’ night when someone called out to him ‘come here you piece of shit’.

Const Steve Buchanan said they saw Smith at the bar of the Drake Hotel and minutes later in the rear car park he saw Sgt Martin ‘stumbling backward’ about 1 metre from Smith.

Moments later Const Buchanan said he heard Sgt Martin say ‘don’t move’, followed two seconds later by the sound of a gunshot.

Sgt Martin said Smith panicked then ran and when he grabbed him, Smith yelled ‘come on have a go’ before throwing two or three punches, striking the officer in the upper body before running off.

Sgt Martin, in a statement before the court, said Smith later swung around holding an object in his hand and pointing it at him.

“I immediately discharged one round from my firearm directly at him. I feared he was in possession of a firearm and was going to shoot me,” Sgt Martin said.

Afterwards he found Smith doing the backstroke in the water. The sergeant entered the chest deep water and Smith surrendered after clambering up an embankment.

When Magistrate Roger Prowse went to give his decision in the hearing he discovered a legal problem with the two police charges and could not proceed.

Following legal argument from both defence and police the charges were amended and Smith immediately pleaded guilty.

He was convicted of both charges and time served was released. However, Smith remains in jail on other matters.

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