It was self-defence, says man charged with injuring officer

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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A prisoner who allegedly injured a police officer when he fought against being put in a prison van says his actions were self-defence.

Andrew Gaffney, 49, denies two charges of aggravated assault of the police officer at the temporary New Plymouth police station on St Aubyn St on March 30 last year.

The Crown says Gaffney is guilty of pushing Senior Constable Peter Loader into a padlock on a wall injuring his arm when he fought against going into the prison van.

Gaffney also attempted to bite the constable and spat at him and two prison officers when he was finally handcuffed, picked up and put head first into the van.

But Gaffney's lawyer Patrick Mooney says his client had been told he could see a doctor before going in the van to get painkillers for his sore back.

Because that did not happen, Gaffney's resistance was an act of self-defence, Mr Mooney told the jury.

Crown prosecutor Alan Johnston said Gaffney was remanded in custody by a justice of the peace earlier that day and returned to police cells awaiting transport to Wanganui Prison.

At 12.45pm he was released from his police cell when the assaults occurred.

He was eventually restrained, handcuffed and was carried into the van, spitting at the police and prison officers as the doors were shut, Mr Johnston said.

Mr Mooney said there was an obligation for Corrections officers to ensure their prisoners had access to medical care and failure to do that meant the constable was not executing his duty, Mr Mooney said.

Mr Loader said a message was left for the on-duty police doctor to see Gaffney but he could not be reached.

Gaffney had "made a good attempt" to bite him on his chest and shoulder, Mr Loader said.

"If it was urgent I would have called an ambulance but he wouldn't tell me [what was wrong]."

William Ross, a frontline police support officer, said he saw Gaffney turn and shove Mr Loader into the property office where he "gashed his arm quite badly".

Gaffney told the court that when he came out of his cell he got a fright when Mr Loader grabbed him on his shoulder.

"I had no intention to hurt anyone I was just trying to look after myself. I was dragged to the van and thrown in the back."

The police officer hurt his own elbow when he pulled his arm back, Gaffney said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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