Loophole looms over alleged bashing of cops

TROUBLE BREWING: CCTV footage shows two police officers leading a man from a Queenscliff bar.

By Luke Voogt

Two Queenscliff men who allegedly assaulted police in a brawl that hospitalised three officers could escape mandatory imprisonment due to legal loopholes.

Police charged two 21-year-old men from Queenscliff with offences including assaulting police following the brawl last Saturday night.

In 2014 State Government introduced a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer or emergency worker.

But in May two women avoided prison after appealing their sentences for kicking and punching a veteran paramedic as he treated an unconscious patient two years ago.

A Melbourne magistrate sentenced the pair to jail last December but a County Court judge later quashed the sentence.

The judge ruled the two women were “mentally impaired” during the incident, which followed a daylong binge on bourbon, champagne and cannabis.

She ruled the pair had made “enormous” efforts to turn their lives around after “appalling” childhoods and battles with drug, alcohol and mental-health problems.

In response to public outcry State Government in June introduced legislation requiring stricter proofs for the “mental impairment“ exception.

But the bill is still before parliament and Department of Justice confirmed the new legislation would not apply to retrospective offences.

This means the two men facing assault police charges from Saturday’s brawl could avoid prison if convicted.

The violent incident began when police responded to a request to move patrons on from a licensed premises on Gellibrand Street, Queenscliff, just before 10pm.

While police were escorting a man from the premises, two other men allegedly assaulted two officers.

Others joined the brawl, and police used OC spray and called for backup before arresting six men.

A seventh man handed himself into Geelong Police Station a short time later.

Police charged a 21-year-old Queenscliff man with two counts of assaulting police and two counts of recklessly causing injury.

They charged the other 21-year-old from Queenscliff with assaulting police, resisting police, intentionally causing injury and recklessly causing injury.

They have both been bailed to appear at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on 5 October.

Six police officers sustained injuries during the incident, with three receiving hospital treatment.

One officer was injured seriously enough to require time off work, Acting Senior Sergeant Michael Graham told a press conference.

“Our officers don’t come to work expecting to be assaulted. Police are doing their job to let everyone have a safe night out,“ he said.

Snr Sgt Graham warned that getting involved in a violent brawl could result in a two-year ban from any licenced venue.

Police urged anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppersvic.com.au.