Gunbower man jailed for police assault

A Gunbower farmer who punched a police officer in unprovoked, drugged and drunken “paranoia” has been sentenced to six months’ jail.

Steven Richards appealed a sentence on charges of stalking, assault, drink-driving and criminal damage in the Bendigo County Court yesterday.

Richards had received a six-month sentence in the Echuca Magistrates Court on April 26.

But his lawyer, Matthew Mahady, said he was seeking a suspended sentence on appeal so Richards could complete a rehabilitation program.

The court heard Richards was drunk and abusing Oxycontin – a narcotic pain reliever – at the time of offending, and he had a long history of alcoholism.

Prosecuting, Peter Jones said police had received reports of a drunk-driver in Gunbower on July 21, last year.

Mr Jones said police stopped the car, in which Edwards was travelling as a passenger, and he became angry.

“The applicant ran towards the vehicle, he banged on the bonnet and yelled at the police member... he banged on the roof and windscreen,” he said.

“He then opened the driver’s door and punched the officer to the side of the face.

“As the officer tried to cuff him he kicked him to the stomach several times.”

Mr Jones said the event came just six weeks after Richards was caught driving more than three times the legal blood alcohol limit.

He said Richards was driving along the Mitiamo Road towards Echuca when he was seen several times nearly running off the road, drifting into the right lane and almost colliding with oncoming vehicles.

When stopped by police he blew a blood alcohol reading of 0.162 and admitted to drinking 12 stubbies.

Mr Mahady said his client had since enrolled in a residential rehabilitation program it was essential he complete.

“This is his absolute last chance, the last time to address properly these issues with alcohol addiction,” he said.

“At the time of the police assault he was abusing Oxycontin and alcohol. He says he was in such a state with drugs and alcohol it was almost paranoia.

Judge Jane Patrick said she was “encouraged” by these steps but had no other option but to jail Richards.

She re-sentenced Richards to six months’ jail and disqualified him from driving for 24 months.

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