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Drink drove ‘devil’

Friday, 17th March, 2017

By Craig Brealey

A Broken Hill man terrorised an elderly couple in Wentworth by making bizarre threats and driving his car at them in their own home, the District Court heard yesterday.

The man screamed abuse at the 71-year-old man and his wife, and told them he was a “Barkindji warrior” and “the devil” before revving up his car and driving at their pet dog, then reversing and driving at the man. 

Anzac Brian Sullivan (34) said that he was drunk and on drugs at the time of the incident in September last year and could not remember exactly what he had done.

In February this year he was sentenced to 18 months’ jail but lodged an all grounds appeal against three of the nine charges of which he was convicted. 

The appeal was heard yesterday in the District Court and rested on the argument that he was incapable of forming any intent to cause harm because, as Sullivan said, “I was out of my mind”. 

According to evidence given by the couple to a Local Court hearing in Wentworth February, on the afternoon of September 15 he drove into the yard of their home on Old Wentworth road about 2.15pm and asked if they had any fuel. 

A large Australian flag flew at the front of the house and Sullivan told the court he thought he was pulling into a petrol station.

His car drew up next to the woman who asked him what he wanted. This prompted an outburst of abuse in which he claimed to be the devil. The frightened woman went inside to get her husband.

He came out and Sullivan told him he wanted fuel. The man said that he did not have any and Sullivan said: “I am a Barkindji warrior, I own this land, you white .....” 

He then reversed his car up the driveway, revved the engine and drove at the dog, reversed again, drove at the man and stopped “a foot or two” from him.

“I was frightened,” the man told the court hearing. “I really felt my age.”

He said that when Sullivan started screaming at him again, he armed himself with a star picket.

“I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, his wife had called police who came and arrested Sullivan when he refused to take a breath test.

One of the officers said that he was gnashing his teeth and his eyes were rolling back in his head. When they told him he was under arrest, they said he replied “lock me up” but when they tried to put him in the police car he started thrashing about.

As they put they were putting the handcuffs on him he kicked one of them in shin.

He was charged but pleaded not guilty to intimidating the couple, resisting arrest, assaulting police, refusing a breath test, and driving drunk while disqualified an unregistered and uninsured car that bore false number plates.

He was jailed but appealed against being convicted of the first three charges.

Sullivan’s lawyer, Jalal Razi, told the District Court yesterday that he was not challenging the evidence of the witnesses, but the conviction of his client who was affected by “one or more substances” and was therefore incapable of forming any intent to commit the offences.

“This is not somebody acting in a rational state of mind,” Mr Razi said.

He also said that Sullivan had not meant to kick the police officer; he was just lashing out because the handcuffs were so tight that they had cut into his wrists and his trousers were falling down.

Judge Paul Lakatos said it was regrettable that he was hurt but that the police were acting under duress and, in any case, Sullivan had started struggling before he was handcuffed.

The judge also said he had “grave doubts” about Sullivan’s evidence. He claimed that he could not remember anything but told the court that he recalled asking the man for fuel “nicely”.

“He said: ‘Can I get some fuel, please, mate?’ How can he remember this with clarity but he can’t remember if he swore because he was too drunk?

“One is in his interest to remember but the other is not.

“He remembers enough of the material that might exonerate him but with the other material he becomes vague.

“He is a wholly unconvincing and unreliable witness.”

Judge Lakatos dismissed the appeal but then Mr Razi lodged an appeal against the severity of the sentences and asked that Sullivan be released on bail so that he could attend a rehabilitation clinic.

The judge agreed that the jail terms for resisting arrest and intimidation were harsh and he reduced the overall sentence by six months. Sullivan will be due for release in September but will then have to spend six months on parole.

His request to be released for rehab was denied.

Sullivan has a long history of committing violent crimes and if he wanted rehabilitation, the judge said, he could do it “after paying the price” in jail.

“This was a significant and extremely serious offence directed at two elderly citizens.

“It is a minimum requirement in a civilised society that we can go about our business without being attacked or assaulted, or having a car driven at us.”

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