Parents lodge complaint over Aussie mayor's 'citizen's arrest' of child

Another man also allegedly 'stomped' on the boy's head after he was restrained by the mayor.

The furious parents of a boy who was allegedly physically restrained and sat on by the local mayor in a so-called citizen's arrest are pushing for legal action to be taken against him.

Video shows the now-suspended Barkly Regional Council Mayor Jeffrey McLaughlin allegedly sitting on the child's back at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, during an incident in August.

McLaughlin claims the boy had broken into his home, prompting him to detain the child, who is understood to be Indigenous, until authorities arrived. Another man who features in the video allegedly "stomped" on the boy's head and is now facing charges of aggravated assault, the ABC reported.

The Tennant Creek mayor sitting on a young boy.
The Tennant Creek mayor Jeffrey McLaughlin has been suspended following an investigation into the council. Source: ABC.

Mayor allegedly 'used excessive force' on boy

In a letter to the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) by Barkly councillor Elliot McAdam, signed by the child's parents earlier this month, the family allege McLaughlin "used excessive force" to restrain the boy for what they say was an unnecessarily long period of time.

"As a person in high office he should [have] stopped this assault almost immediately, but he didn't," the letter reads. "Any reasonable person would not have sat on my son's back... for a long time.

"Mr McLaughlin did not try to stop [the other man] stomping on my son's head."

In response to the criticism, McLaughlin said his actions were "entirely reasonable within the circumstances".

McLaughlin earlier claimed that following the incident he had spoken with the child's parents in what he described as restorative justice, though they denied that ever occurred. The suspended mayor also claimed he was a relative of the family, which they also denied.

Tenant Creek mayor resists calls for resignation

Although McLaughlin has so far resisted calls from First Nations groups to resign over the "citizen's arrest", he is currently suspended from office along with fellow Barkly Regional Council members as the NT government investigates.

Jeffrey McLaughlin, the now-suspended Barkly Regional Council mayor.
Jeffrey McLaughlin, the now-suspended Barkly Regional Council Mayor. Source: Barkly Regional Council.

In a seperate letter, Mr McAdam wrote to NT Attorney General and Local Government Minister Chansey Paech, questioning the potential disciplinary action against McLaughlin.

"Do you agree that there is potentially a lesser standard and or a different set of principles… applied to a young boy in Tennant Creek as opposed to the chief minister in Nightcliff," Mr McAdam wrote, pointing to police charges against a woman who allegedly assaulted Chief Minister Natasha Fyles with a pie in September.

"I write in the interest of other Indigenous people in the Barkly [region] who have been impacted over the past 18 months by events imposed and not of their own making."

Paech earlier admitted he was "horrified" by the footage and that he viewed McLaughlin's stunt as "completely unacceptable".

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