Cop stabber says he feared for his life

·3-min read

A spilt second decision to grab a makeshift spear and stab a police officer in the neck was born out of the terror of losing one's life, a Sydney jury has heard.

"This guy did not seem to be a police officer ... I thought I was going to die. I literally thought these guys were going to kill me," said Rory James Constantino in a 2019 police interview.

The 30-year-old is facing trial after stabbing Senior Constable Jacob Vella in the neck just after 6.30am on June 11, 2019 inside his family home in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Sadleir.

In an interview with police, played to a jury in the Downing Centre District Court on Monday, Constantino admitted the stabbing but said he thought he was in the middle of a home invasion.

He has pleaded not guilty to wounding Sen Const Vella with the intent of preventing the arrest of his father Ricky Constantino, and has denied a backup charge of wounding a police officer recklessly causing actual bodily harm.

In his interview at Liverpool Police Station on the day of the incident, the Sydney man described the "confronting and vicious" experience with two men who he, at the time, did not believe were police officers.

He said he got "bad vibrations" from one of the men who had flashed a "weird" looking badge at him, and was dressed in plain clothes. If they were cops, he expected to see paddy wagons at the scene, he added.

"He had f***ing sneakers on. I'm thinking this is bad, this is bad, what's he doing here?"

After refusing to allow them into his home, they smashed his front door in, leading Constantino to run to his bedroom for safety, he told police.

First trying to barricade the door to his bedroom, he said he was knocked down to the ground and beaten up. At that moment, he reached for the first thing on hand - a knife attached with string to a wooden stick.

"They both chased me down as if I was being hunted and killed," he told police.

"I just literally grabbed the first f***ing thing I could see, man."

He said he had the weapon because he lived in a bad neighbourhood, had seen random people in his backyard at night and felt he needed something to defend himself and his family.

He felt shocked he had actually stabbed a police officer in what he described as straight instinctive fear.

"It was a strike of defence. And that's what I mean. It stuns me to think I actually did that."

He told police he would like to apologise to the man and his family.

"For what it's worth, I feel so sick and sorry."

He said he did not realise they were police until after the pair had fled the house and three police vehicles arrived.

With five police officers advancing on him as he left the house, and Tasers pointed in his direction, Constantino said he was crying in shock and raised his hands in submission.

He denied claims by the other plain clothes police officer on the scene, then-Constable Grant Koschel, that he had shown his identification and said there was a warrant out for his father's arrest.

The trial continues.