Police in operation Unite. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Police in operation Unite. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate Rob Wright

Lawyer argues client's drunk arrest was unlawful

JACK Blackburn claims his client was unlawfully arrested and therefore the assault and obstruct police charges after the arrest were actually self-defence.

His client, Tyanne Tara Blake, has pleaded guilty to other charges relating to a drinking session at the Gracemere Hotel one afternoon in May last year.

She was kicked out of the pub, re-entered, damaged a table and stole a bottle of alcohol but is contesting charges in relation to obstructing and assaulting police.

Blake pleaded guilty to the pub-related charges in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on January 17, but not guilty to contravening the direction of a police officer, one of obstructing police and two of assaulting police.

During the hearing, the court heard that Blake admitted to being at the Gracemere Hotel during the afternoon of May 17, 2017, and was asked to leave by a staff member but failed to do so.

She then resisted attempts by hotel co-owner Gavin Pitt to remove her from the premises, re-entered the premises, damaged a table and stole a bottle of alcohol before walking down the road to the Gracemere State School.

However, it's the next series of events that led Blake to entering pleas of not guilty.

The court heard testimony from Gracemere police officers Constable Morgan Millington, the arresting officer, and his partner Constable Jordan Singleton.

The pair started their shift at 4pm that day and went straight on patrols looking for a suspect in a theft and wilful damage at the Gracemere Hotel.

They were given a description of a blonde-haired woman dressed in all black.

"We found a female sitting near the Gracemere school that matched the description,” Const Millington said.

The court watched body worn camera footage from Const Millington's gear which showed Constable Lleam Rees asking Blake for her name and Blake responding she wouldn't tell him as she continued to smoke a cigarette while sitting on the ground against the school's fence.

Next, Const Millington has approached Blake, who was clearly intoxicated, and introduced himself. She responded, introducing herself as Tyanne Blake.

The pair have continued a discussion for a short time before Const Millington tells her rights.

As he finished telling her she had the right to ring someone, she reached into her bag and asked if she could. However, he pulled her up and said he just needed to continue informing her of her rights.

The footage does not show Blake given the opportunity to make the call. However, she mumbled at one point she had already called her mother, who was on her way.

Const Millington asked Blake to spell her name for him and give him her address. She declined and he next informs Blake it was an offence to not provide a name and address.

Mr Blackburn said it was not within police powers to order someone to spell their name and provide an address. The court did hear that the officers did have the powers to request to see photograph identification such as a driver's licence, which would have contained this information.

He also said that Blake had not contravened the direction to state her name, which was originally given by Const Rees, as she provided it to Const Millington.

Magistrate Cameron Press adjourned the matter indefinitely after both police prosecution and Mr Blackburn concluded their cases.

The footage showed Blake going from giggling to saying derogative things to crying.

Const Millington next informed her she was under arrest for not complying with direction of a police officer and he moves, with his partner, to pick Blake up off the ground.

After she was up off the ground, he picks up her black bag from the ground, and Blake was escorted by the officers down the footpath to the carpark, where their police vehicle was located.

While she was escorted to the police car, she had resisted the officers and kicked one in the leg.

The trio wrestled when they reached the police car with one officer securing one of the handcuffs on Blake before all three fell to the ground.

The court heard two other people's voices in the background at this point of the footage and after the officers have put cuffs on both Blake's wrists and pulled her up off the ground, a woman wearing a football jersey is seen in the vision talking to Blake and coaxing her to get in the police car.

The woman was identified by Const Millington as being Blake's mother who the officers stopped to explain the situation to after placing Blake in the car, and obtained some details from.

The court heard Blake was then transported to the Rockhampton Watch House.

Const Millington said Blake had been abusive during the car trip and had threatened to hurt him.

CCTV footage played to the court showed Blake lying on the back seat and kicking out at the door as Const Millington opened it.

She wriggled her way out and Const Singleton approached her from behind as she screamed at Const Millington.

The officers then escorted her to the cell, with Blake pushing Const Singleton into the side of the car on the way as she struggled against them.

A total of five videos were played to the court with the last videos showing Const Singleton letting go of his hold of Blake after she entered the watch house cell and seconds later, Const Millington let go and Blake tumbled forward into the cell, falling on the ground.

Blake was left on the floor of the cell for minutes before Const Singleton, Const Millington and a third officer approached the cell.

As they have entered, Blake has lifted one of her legs up in the air towards Const Millington who grabbed it and pushed it away from him.

Blake was picked up off the ground and escorted to the cell's seat, still handcuffed, and she has again assaulted Const Millington, kicking him near the groin. The police officers then left Blake in the cell.

Magistrate Cameron Press adjourned the hearing indefinitely after closing addresses by prosecution and Mr Blackburn.

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