Police fury at sentence—(The Mercury)

Original article no longer available.

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Police fury at sentence


May 05, 2009 07:52am

POLICE have lashed out at a seven-month jail sentence given to a violent man for a terrifying knife attack on an officer.

The Police Association yesterday slammed the sentence handed down by Justice Shan Tennent to Craig Lionel Mead, who has a long record of assaulting officers, saying police should not be society’s punching bags.

Mead, 46, appeared in the Supreme Court in Hobart yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of assaulting police, and one each of threatening police, destroying property, injuring property and trespass.

Police Association president Randolph Wierenga said the judge’s decision offered no protection for frontline police.

“It doesn’t act as any kind of deterrent to people who continue to behave in this way,” Mr Wierenga said.

“You would have thought that with his previous record that a far greater deterrent would be required.

“It shows that frontline police require other forms of protection — they are not the punching bags of society and should never be seen as such.”

On January 17 Mead was drunk and affected by drugs when he went to the Rokeby home of a former partner.

The woman was on her way home when she was warned of Mead’s presence by a neighbour and flagged down a passing policeman to escort her.

When they arrived, Mead confronted them with two knives.

“One of us is going to die,” he yelled. “Is it going to be you because I’m going to … stab you.”

Mead then ran at the officer and threatened to kill him, asked to be shot and fled into bushland before stabbing himself in the stomach.

Justice Tennent said Mead clearly had problems with people in authority and trouble controlling his anger and emotions.

“When you react to situations you react dramatically,” she said.

“You have a longstanding history for use of cannabis and misuse of alcohol and prescribed drugs.

“On the day of this offence you had been consuming alcohol, antidepressant medication and benzodiazepines.”

She said the impact of the incident on the officer should not be understated.

“The police officer you threatened to kill, while an experienced one, found your behaviour on this day extremely confronting and he had difficulty dealing with it and getting over it.

“You cannot expect to be constantly treated with leniency when you appear to not be prepared to accept help and refrain from abuse of drugs and alcohol. There must be a sentence which will act as a deterrent for you and others who are minded to reject police authority. ”

The court heard Mead faces a further charge for allegedly making a death threat against the same police officer at his last court hearing.

Justice Tennent took into account Mead’s long record of violent offending and imposed a sentence of 10 months for the six offences, with the last three months suspended. Mead has been in custody since January 17 and will be released in just over three months.

The confrontation with the officer sparked calls last month for police to be equipped with Taser guns.

“Frontline police require the protection Tasers provide, as they would better equip police to deal with threats to their safety and the safety of the public,” Mr Wierenga said last month.

He said capsicum spray was not ideal because officers needed to be too close to an offender to use it.