Police officer killed in Sydney attack

Last updated 11:35 07/12/2012
Fairfax Australia

A senior NSW police officer has died after being hit with an axe in western Sydney yesterday.

KILLED: Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson.
KYLIE PITT/Fairfax
KILLED: Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson.

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A mother and son have been charged with the murder of senior police officer Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson, who died after an alleged knife attack in Oakville, west of Sydney yesterday.

Mitch Barbieri, 19, and his mother Fiona, 45, have been charged and will appear before Penrith Local Court today.

Police were called to a property on Scheyville Road, Oakville, just after 2pm on Thursday (NZT 4pm) after neighbours wanted to complain about arrows being fired into their yard from a crossbow.

Detective Inspector Anderson, 45, died after he was attacked, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said.

"We will be alleging that a knife was used in this attack."

The initial report to the ambulance service was that a police officer had been struck in the head with an axe.

Scipione said there had been an extended neighbourhood dispute between two families.

"This has been an ongoing neighbourhood dispute between two families and it's been brewing now for some period.

"It came to an end yesterday and, as we know, it led to the death of this officer."

He said it had been a privilege to be able to comfort Detective Inspector Anderson's family.

"As they go into Christmas 2012, this is a very, very black time."

The hearts of the NSW Police force were bleeding for the officer's loved ones, he said.

"This is the sort of man that no-one can afford to lose from a modern police agency. His loss is one that we will feel for many, many years to come.

"We were all in mourning last night and we're still in shock today.

"The reality is our police knowingly face dangers every day.

‘‘They go to work each morning, not knowing whether they're going to come home that night.

"Yesterday our worst nightmare was delivered to us."

NEIGHBOURHOODS DISPUTE

The emergency call just after 2pm had come from neighbours who wanted to complain about arrows being fired into their yard from a crossbow.

Over the next two hours, 11 police who attended the scene were forced to take refuge behind a cordon as they fought off abuse, arrows, angry dogs and other weapons while trying to bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.

Fairfax Media understands that as the chaotic conflict unfolded, Inspector Anderson became separated from his fellow officers on the boundary of the semi-rural property.

Just after 4.15pm (NZT 6.15pm), Inspector Anderson died during a struggle.

It is understood the neighbouring property belongs to Kevin Waters, a senior figure in the Sydney tow truck industry.

When called this morning, a Kevin Waters tow truck company employee said: "No comment, mate. A man's lost his life."

ONE OF THE FORCE'S FINEST

Scipione described Inspector Anderson as a widely respected veteran of the force who came from a police family.

He is survived by his wife Donna and three children, and his father and brother were also police officers.

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"They are just salt of the earth, the family. His commitment, his dedication, his ongoing experience will be sadly lost and missed.

"He was a mentor to many and probably a better friend to even more."

When he was a constable in the late 1990s, Inspector Anderson was involved in busting a high-profile car rebirthing racket operating throughout Sydney.

He went on to become a detective and spent time with the elite at the NSW State Crime Command.

More recently he featured on ABC TV's Australian Story as one of two officers who assisted Catherine Smith, a wife who was tortured and tormented by her husband for more than 30 years.

Smith had developed a ''very big mistrust'' of the NSW Police after she was tried (and later acquitted) for attempting to murder her abusive husband.

It was only after the involvement of Inspector Anderson that Smith started to regain her trust. He later delivered a letter of apology to her for the attempted murder charge.

''It was a step that we could take to try and restore Catherine's faith in the New South Wales Police,'' Inspector Anderson told Australian Story.

Most recently, Inspector Anderson was based at Hawkesbury where he lived with his family.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher said he and the commissioner would be attending a particularly poignant annual lunch with police widows.

"Today it will be with a very sad and heavy heart that both of us speak to those widows, knowing that sadly another widow and another family has been added to the list of those that have fallen.

"This year, the 150th year of policing, was supposed to be one of celebration. We started the year with the death of Senior Constable Dave Rixon, we now conclude 2012 with the death of another officer.

"It is indeed a very sad year."

On Thursday, Scipione went to Hawkesbury District Hospital to comfort family.

"He was an excellent officer and a damn good bloke," a visibly emotional Scipione said outside the hospital.

"Bryson today has given his life in the service of the community of NSW."

Scipione said it was a very sad night for the force.

"There is a family inside that hospital grieving and a wider family across the state of NSW, the police family, that will be crying inside," he said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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