Brett William Tonkin pleaded guilty in Tweed Heads Local Court after a six hour stand-off with police.
Brett William Tonkin pleaded guilty in Tweed Heads Local Court after a six hour stand-off with police.

STAND-OFF: Man sets himself on fire, threatens to shoot cops

THE man who was at the centre of a six-hour stand off with Tweed police before lighting himself on fire has been sent for a mental health assessment.

Brett William Tonkin, who described his own criminal history as "shocking", faced Tweed Heads Local Court by videolink from the Tweed Heads Police Station dressed only in a blanket on Tuesday.

Police prosecutor Alix Thom warned the court in advance there may be an issue with nudity as Tonkin had removed his clothes in the police cells but had been provided with a blanket.

The 51-year-old refused legal representation and pleaded guilty to common assault, intimidation, damaging property and using an offensive weapon to prevent police investigation.

Police had been called to Tonkin's mother's ground-floor unit in Buchan Ave, Tweed Heads about 4pm on Monday night.

Police facts tendered in court reveal Tonkin's mother told police the two had an argument about Tonkin missing an appointment in the morning because his mother didn't remind him.

Tonkin verbally abused his mother and threatened to burn down her house.

She left the home saying she to run some errands and when his mother came back Tonkin pushed her along the hallway and locked her outside.

According to court documents, she walked to the Tweed Heads Hospital nearby and called police.

When police arrived, Tonkin threatened to stab officers while holding a knife through his screen door and told police he would shoot them with the two firearms he kept on his premises.

According to court documents, Tonkin also made further threats to kill himself during the six-hour stand-off, in which police had established a perimeter and cordoned off the street.

Tonkin set fire to himself and police forced entry into the unit and arrested him while he continued to threaten police.

Initially Tonkin sobbed as he told the court he was sorry, took responsibility for his actions and wanted the matter "over and done with".

Tonkin said he realised "could go to jail" due to his "shocking" criminal history but he had "pulled his head in" during the last 10 years and was caring for his "two beautiful girls" at his home in Ormeau.

Tonkin acknowledged he had previous diagnosed mental health issues including serious depression and extreme anti-social anxiety.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy accepted his pleas and ordered Tonkin be taken to the Tweed Hospital mental health unit for a psychiatric assessment before the case would progress any further.

*If this reporting has raised any issues for you please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24 hours crisis counselling.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.


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