Illawarra Aboriginal activist Lyle Davis has been fined $400 and placed on a 16-month court bond after being found guilty of using offensive language, disobeying a move-on direction and assaulting and resisting police.
Wollongong Local Court heard police discovered an inebriated Davis lying on the nature strip near Benaud Crescent and Lake Entrance Road at Warilla on July 24 last year.
Police offered to help Davis, who had his left arm removed after an accident in 1984, as he appeared unable to move and was yelling profanities towards the sky.
However, they told the court they were greeted with a tirade of abuse.
“F—k off you white c—ts, get out of my country,” Davis yelled out.
Police said Davis was rolling back and forth on his back, had watery eyes, was slurring his words and smelt strongly of alcohol, leading them to form the belief he was heavily affected by alcohol.
When Davis resisted police efforts to help him, officers gave him a formal ‘move-on’ direction, requiring him to leave the area and not return for six hours.
However, Davis still refused to move.
One of the officers told Davis he was concerned about his safety and that he might “wander into traffic”.
This was met with more belligerent behaviour on Davis’ part, prompting police to place him under arrest for disobeying a move-on direction. They then physically picked him up and took him to the police paddy wagon.
Davis struggled and thrashed about, kicking one of the officers in the process.
He was taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station where he was charged.
Davis pleaded not guilty to the charges, with his lawyer, Jack Hibbard, arguing in court recently that Davis’ arrest had been unlawful.
He claimed police had not complied with their requirements under the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act in their dealings with Davis and had not given him enough time to obey the move-on direction.
However, Magistrate Geraldine Beattie found police had complied with the law when they arrested Davis.
“He clearly had no intention of leaving the scene,” she said in her judgment.
“If police had gone back to their car and driven off and something happened to Mr Davis there would have been criticism of them.
“The evidence is clear – Mr Davis wasn’t making any indication of changing his behaviour throughout his interaction with police.
“I accept he did persist in not moving as he’d been required to do, and therefore his arrest was lawful.”
Mr Hibbard described Davis as a “proud Aboriginal man” on sentence, saying he had led a life of activism which sometimes ran foul of the law.
Two such occasions involved him tying himself to a forrest clearer’s truck and conducting a smoking ceremony inside Mount Druitt courthouse.
Mr Hibbard said Davis was “highly intoxicated to the point of incapacitation” when police discovered him lying by the side of the roadway.
Meantime, Davis interjected on several occasions during the proceedings, telling the court he was “asleep in my own land”, that police had “no right to touch me” and that he’d been “looking after country”.
He also said “I don’t know why I get intoxicated” to no one in particular.
In imposing the fine and bond, Magistrate Beattie said police had simply been acting out of concern for Davis’ safety and didn’t deserve to put up with his behaviour.