Guide on the Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer in NSW


Former Home and Away actor, 46- year old Joel McIlroy has allegedly approached a female NSW Police officer before punching her up to seven times in Surry Hills.

It’s reported that McIlroy who previously played the role on Home and Away as Flynn Saunders, had allegedly first approached the female police officer as she was talking to another person in respect to minor offences unrelated to McIlroy.

Allegedly, the officer had given McIlroy a move on direction before being punched 7 times by him, which then resulting in him being arrested on Tuesday after a good Samaritan had intervened and performed a citizen’s arrest.

He spent the night in police custody before appearing at the Central Local Court via Audio-Visual Link (AVL) yesterday.

On Wednesday, Local Court Magistrate Williams at the Central Local Court was told that McIlroy weighed a hundred kilograms standing at six feet tall, while the female police officer weighed around 55 to 65kilograms, standing at five foot four.

McIlroy has been charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting police, and wilfully obstructing police.

The 29-year old female police officer was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital for treatment of injuries, including bruising on her cheek, dislodged vertebra and some soft tissue injury. She has been discharged from hospital, but reports reveal that she will need “ongoing treatment by a physiotherapist”.

The Court refused McIlroy bail, and commented that there will likely be a full-time custodial sentence for this kind of offence.

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Guide on the Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer in NSW

The penalties for assaulting police in NSW range from a maximum of 5-years to 14-years imprisonment, with a standard non-parole period ranging from 3-years to 5-years imprisonment depending on which type of police assault charge a person faces.

A standard non-parole period reflects the bare minimum period of time an offender is required to spend in gaol before any eligibility for release on parole in the community, if the offending conduct is considered to be in the mid-range of objective seriousness for this offence.

Even if the offence falls in the mid-range of objective seriousness, the law says that Court are not required to impose the standard non-parole period, rather it’s meant to be used by the sentencing Judge as a guide in reaching a fair sentence.

This is reflected in section 60 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

In NSW, you will be ‘guilty’ of committing the crime of assaulting police if you:

  1. Assault, stalk, intimidate or harass (or throw a missile) at a police officer; and
  2. The officer ends up sustaining either no actual bodily harm, actual bodily harm, wound or grievous bodily harm; and
  3. The officer at the time of the assault was acting in execution of duty.

A Magistrate will be required to return a verdict of ‘not guilty’ if the prosecution fail to prove each of the above three elements in court beyond reasonable doubt.

Here is more on assault charges.

Which Police Assault Offences Have a Standard Non-Parole Period?

Amongst the assault police offences, 4 have a standard non-parole period, and include the following:

  1. Assaulting police occasioning actual bodily harm on the officer under section 60(1) carries a maximum penalty of 7-years gaol, with a 3-years standard non-parole period.
  2. Assaulting police occasioning actual bodily harm during a public disorder under section 60(2A) has a maximum penalty of 9-years gaol, and a 3-years standard non-parole period.
  3. Assaulting police occasioning wound or grievous bodily harm to the officer recklessly under section 60(3) carries a maximum penalty of up to 12-years gaol, with a 5-years standard non-parole period.
  4. Assaulting police occasioning grievous bodily harm or wound to the officer recklessly during a public disorder under section 60(3A) has a maximum penalty of 14-years gaol, with a 5-years standard non-parole period.


Which Police Assault Offences Don’t have a Standard Non-Parole Period?

The two assault police offences that do not have a standard non-parole period include:

  1. Assaulting, stalking, harassing, intimidating or throwing a missile at a police officer where no actual bodily harm is occasioned to the officer under section 60(1) carries a maximum of a 5-years gaol term and no standard non-parole period.
  2. Doing this during a public disorder under section 60(1A) has a maximum 7-years gaol term without a standard non-parole period.

Note, that being assaulting police occasioning wound or grievous bodily harm (GBH) recklessly occurs if you wound or cause GBH after realising the possibility of your assault causing actual bodily harm.

‘Actual bodily harm’ is the kind of harm the law considers is more than merely transient or trifling not necessarily permanent injury. This type of injury includes a bruise.

Broken bones or HIV infection amounts to grievous bodily harm or grievous bodily disease, whereas, wounding includes a situation where there is a cut to the interior layer of the skin.

Defence to an assault police officer charge in NSW includes:

  • Where the officer was not acting legally. i.e. illegal search or illegal arrest.
  • Where you were acting in self-defence.
  • Where you were acting from a necessity or duress.
  • Where you were suffering a mental illness, or your conduct alleged was not voluntary.

Assault law is a complex area of criminal law. We hope this and our other articles help you understand it better.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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