It is reported that 59-year-old Michael Greene allegedly assaulted a female police officer when he was being taken away from the MCG Stadium on Saturday.
Michael, who’s son is a Giants’ player (Toby Greene), has been charged with 6 counts, including assaulting police, assaulting emergency worker, intentionally and recklessly occasioning injury to a police officer, resist police, and being intoxicated in a public place.
The incident is said to have unfolded when he was discovered to be intoxicated in an MCG toilet shortly after 5pm subsequent to the game finishing.
Reports allege that as Michael was being escorted away from the MCG, he headbutted a female police officer involved in trying to remove him.
When he appeared before the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on the next day, after spending the rest of Saturday night in custody, he didn’t make a bail application for his release.
The court heard that he was also on bail at the time and requires suboxone and Valium, which is commonly used for opioid dependency.
Victoria’s Police Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton has reportedly said, “not good enough”.
“Any violence towards any police officer, let alone a policewoman, is abhorrent and is to be deplored.”
“We had a couple officers attend the hospital, and we’re pleased to say they’re in better health today, but still, injuries and behaviour that they’ve experienced that they didn’t need to experience.”
Giants captain, Phil Davis has reportedly said, “We’ll put out arms around him, he’s a terrific person and so we’re all going to support him”.
He also said, “from my point of view, people make a huge amount of assertions about Toby without knowing the man. In my opinion some of them are completely unfair and unfactual as well. It’s disappointing at times as a team and a good friend of him that he gets treated with what I think is a lack of respect. And he does it hard and it’d be nice if people could think about what it would be like in his shoes.”
While Victoria now have the mandatory 6-months imprisonment sentences for assaulting an emergency worker, NSW laws are not so rigid and allows our Judges and Magistrate greater discretion for the sentence to be catered around the individual offence and subjective features of the case.
The mandatory 6-months imprisonment is said to be a one-size fits all type of law that takes away the Court’s discretion when it comes to determining an appropriate penalty as a sentence- something which NSW law still preserves in this aspect.
But in NSW, to reflect the seriousness with which the law treats the harming of an emergency worker who is out trying to help people is reflected in the standard non-parole periods and maximum penalties which are outlined later in this article.
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The maximum punishments or penalties vary for assaulting a police officer from 5-years through to 14-years imprisonment.
The maximum punishment the law imposes is 5-years imprisonment for the offence of assaulting, throwing a missile at, slaking, harass or intimidating a police officer where the officer is acting in the execution of his/her duty, if the assault results in no actual bodily harm to the officer (section 60(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).
The maximum punishment is 7-years imprisonment if a person commits this offence during a public disorder.
There is also a 7-years maximum punishment if a person assaults a police officer, while the officer was acting in the execution of his/her duty, where the injury caused to the officer is actual bodily harm.
The above penalty increases to a maximum of 9-years if a person does this during a public disorder.
There is a maximum penalty of 12-years imprisonment if a person either wounds or causes grievous bodily harm (GBH) to a police officer, while the officer was acting in the execution of his/her duty, and where the person had:
- Realised the possibility of causing actual bodily harm to the officer at the time of his/her actions but did it regardless.
Where a person commits this crime to a police officer during a public disorder, the punishment increases to a maximum of 14-years imprisonment.
The law says that ‘actual bodily harm’ includes injury considered more than merely transient or trifling. Examples of this include scratches or bruising.
What is ‘grievous bodily harm’ (GBH)? The law says that this is where there is really serious injury. examples of this includes a broken bone and extends even to grievous bodily disease such as HIV infections.
Assault charges carry heavy penalties
Standard Non-Parole Periods for Assaulting Police Officers in NSW
In fact, where the offence is assault to a police officer causing bodily harm under section 60(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), there is a 3-years standard non-parole period. This means that this offence attracts a minimum 3-years non-parole period (full-time custody) before the offender is eligible to be released on a parole period if, and only if the assault falls in the middle of the range of objective seriousness.
Where the offence is assault to a police officer causing the officer wounding or grievous bodily harm under section 60(3) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), there is a 5-years standard non-parole period.
The standard non-parole period is a reflection of the extent of seriousness as a guide in which courts should be taking such offences.
It is important to know however that the standard non-parole period is not applied as a requirement to all offenders when being sentenced by the Judge. It’s a guide to be used to assist in imposing an appropriate penalty on a convicted offender.
The standard non-parole period is reflected in Division 1A of Part 4 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).
Are there defences to a charge of assaulting police in NSW? Yes, there is.
If a defence to this charge applies to a case, the charge will get dismissed in court unless it gets dropped earlier by police through negotiations.
Some defences include, where it can be shown that the officer was acting illegally; where the injury caused was caused from an intervening act; where the accused was acting to protect him/herself or someone else in self-defence; or acting under a necessity or duress.
This article has been written by our own in-house assault lawyer Sydney team.