Man on trial accused of punching female cop

A MAN accused of punching a female police officer several times in the head near Mullumbimby last year was acting in "self-defence", according to his lawyer.

Paul Pierre Eleftheriou, 39, is on trial in the Lismore District Court for assaulting two police officers, resisting arrest, hindering police in the execution of duty, trespassing, and property damage.

On May 5 last year the Tyagarah man was involved in a violent confrontation with police after they tried to arrest him near Uncle Tom's Pies on Gulgan Rd.

Crown Prosecutor Ben Cochrane told the jury the officers were forced to use capsicum spray, a taser, and then physical force -to no avail - until several onlookers assisted Snr Con Chaffey to handcuff the accused.

He told the jury Snr Con Campbell was "severely" and "repeatedly" punched about the head by Eleftheriou during the melee and had to be transported to Byron Bay hospital.

Footage of the incident was captured on the automatic video fitted to Constable Chaffey's taser as well as nearby CCTV at Uncle Tom's.

Fateful day

The day's events started when Senior Constables Michael Chaffey and Kylie Campbell were called to Tyagarah airfield about 4pm following reports from Skydive Australia staff that a dreadlocked and shoeless Eleftheriou was sitting in a plane inside a hangar and refusing to move.

He eventually left the premises peacefully before the two officers arrived at the scene, but subsequent reports about a man walking in front of traffic on Gulgan Rd led them to him.

On the hill above Uncle Tom's the officers tried to order Eleftheriou off the road from the safety of their marked police car before pulling over and approaching him.

As they attempted to guide him off the road by holding his upper arm, he lashed out, waving his arms up and down to escape their grasp.

Snr Con Campbell used her capsicum spray but it had no effect and the officers then suffered secondary contamination from the spray.

Eleftheriou ran down Gulgan Rd towards Uncle Tom's, with the two officers giving chase in their car.

Alleged assault

It was when Snr Con Campbell sought to arrest the accused near the corner of Mullumbimby Rd and Gulgan Rd by spraying him a second time that he again became violent, hitting her "half-a-dozen different times" about the head.

During the alleged assault Snr Con Chaffey fired his taser unsuccessfully before attempting to 'drive stun' the accused man using his taser directly on his body.

Eventually four male onlookers assisted Snr Con Chaffey to handcuff Eleftheriou.

Two others assisted Snr Con Campbell, who was lying on the road injured.

Eleftheriou wore a grey suit, purple shirt, long black pony-tailed hair and a beard as he impassively faced the judge and jury on the opening day of his three to four day trial.

Has been in custody since his arrest.

In her opening remarks to the jury his barrister Megan Cusack told the jury her client "feared that (Snr Con Campbell) was going to shoot him" just before the assault.

Ms Cusack said he had been sprayed twice with capsicum oil, and was then tasered in the back while trying to run away.

"He feared that he was going to be shot given the treatment he'd already received from the police officers," she said.

Ms Cusack said the defence would argue the police officers were not appropriately executing their duty during the arrest, because they could not be satisfied the Eleftheriou was committing an offence, nor that that arrest was necessary, and the accused was not properly informed why the arrest was taking place.

But Snr Con Chaffey, who was called as a witness, said he told Eleftheriou that he was under arrest for trespassing, and that attempts to guide him off the road for his own safety led to him to become violent.

The trial continues.          

Topics:  court crime northern rivers crime police

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