I fought the law ...
A TWEED police officer admitted yesterday he was “more surprised than anything” when he was allegedly punched in the face by a 79-year-old man.
Senior Constable John Mulhearn took the stand in Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday as Raymond Morrissey fought charges that he assaulted and obstructed police in their duty.
The charges arose as a result of a February 20 scuffle between the pair at the Pottsville village supermarket over the use of a police siren.
Snr Cnst Mulhearn had used his siren to pull over a car already entering the supermarket car park.
“It all started off with the bloody siren ... it scared the living daylights out of me,” Morrissey said in a recorded interview played in court.
Morrissey then called out to Mulhearn, saying the siren was unnecessary.
Morrissey claimed in the interview that Mulhearn had “grabbed” him first and in the process knocked over his wife Fay. He claimed the officer would not let him help his wife, so he lashed out with two punches.
Mulhearn said: “The only time I touched Mr Morrissey was after I got punched in the face.”
Magistrate Nick Reimer rejected submissions by Morrissey's solicitor Bill Sizeland that Snr Cnst Mulhearn had acted unlawfully by demanding to see the man's identification in the moments before the altercation became physical. Morrissey also refused to stand in front of the police car's camera.
While video taken from the police car did not show vision of the fight, it was played in court yesterday as it contained audio of the argument and some vision of Snr Cnst Mulhearn.
The initial verbal altercation lasted a few seconds before the policeman walked back to the other vehicle and spoke to the driver.
He then walked back to the police car, where the argument erupted once again out of sight of the camera.
“There was some jibber in the background,” Snr Cnst Mulhearn said in explanation of approaching Morrissey for a second time.
The court heard Snr Cnst Mulhearn called Morrissey a “motormouth”, told him to “get a life” and that he had “too much time on his hands”. Morrissey replied that Snr Cnst Mulhearn was a “smart-arse”.
The officer told the court yesterday he found Morrissey's comment to be offensive and warned him for using offensive language in a public place - but denied he had any intention of making an arrest.
The argument became progressively more heated until the noise of women screaming overwhelmed all other sound.
Snr Cnst Mulhearn said Morrissey had obstructed him in the course of his duty, as the man originally pulled over for reading a newspaper while driving was made to sit in his car throughout the entire incident.
The hearing will continue later this year.