Police officers threatened with contempt of court charge

Queensland Police Service badge on uniform, Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle
Queensland Police Service badge on uniform, Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle Kevin Farmer

A BUNDABERG solicitor has asked a magistrate to consider charging two Bundaberg police officers with contempt of court after they detained a man for questioning inside Bundaberg Courthouse.

Charltons Lawyers Edwina Rowan addressed Magistrate Aaron Simpson yesterday and described the officers' actions on Monday as one of the highest contempts the court was likely to see.

Ms Rowan said the officers impeded the administration of justice as her client, Raymond Alexander Gardner, 65, was prevented from surrendering himself to the court on unrelated matters.

The court heard two previous case laws which indicated a person surrendering to the magistrate had privilege from arrest unless they were committing an offence.

"Once he's in the court building ... he's complying with that obligation," Mr Simpson said.

"You can't arrest someone in a courthouse.

"There's authority going back hundreds of years. It's not a place you can arrest someone unless they commit an offence. (There's) no authority to arrest on court precincts."

However, Mr Simpson said, he regularly dealt with people who were contemptuous and it was his discretion whether or not to charge them.

"It isn't the only way I can approach the matter," he said.

"At this stage it's serious and I want to make sure the conduct isn't repeated."

Mr Simpson however refused to allow the matter to be adjourned for the two-week period requested by police prosecutor Sergeant Dean Burgess.

He instead initially stood the matter down until today to allow Sgt Burgess to seek advice from the Queensland Police Service solicitor's office but later called on both parties to attend the court yesterday afternoon so he could revisit the matter.

Mr Simpson said upon reflection he decided not to take any action given the subsequent allegation of obstructing police Mr Gardner was now facing as a direct result of the incident on Monday.

Mr Gardner was charged with obstruct police after being arrested on the steps of the courthouse.

Mr Simpson said it was all intertwined and he would let the matter take its own course and allow it to be resolved in the context of the obstructing police charge.

He said that would therefore allow both parties to present their views on the matter and exhaust any legal avenues.

Mr Simpson however noted that if similar conduct was to continue it would require further investigation.

The matter was adjourned.

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