Vic police appeal over pensioner bashing

Gus McCubbing
·2-min read

A police officer who pepper-sprayed and punched a Melbourne pensioner during a welfare check wants his guilty verdict overturned on self-defence grounds.

Senior Constable Brad McLeod was one of three officers fined and ordered to be of good behaviour for a year, after assaulting the man at his Preston home in September 2017.

His psychologist had called triple-zero over concerns about the man's mental health.

McLeod, Senior Constable Florian Hilgart and Constable John Edney arrived and between them pepper-sprayed, punched and hosed the pensioner down in his front yard.

While the man was initially "aggressive and volatile", a magistrate last year found the officers' use of force was unjustified. All three officers were spared a conviction.

McLeod, who pepper-sprayed the victim and punched him in the stomach, is now appealing the guilty verdict alongside Hilgart.

Barrister Rahmin de Kretser told Victoria's County Court on Monday McLeod acted to protect himself, his colleagues and the pensioner.

"Did you like that? Did you like that? Smells good, doesn't it?" McLeod said after pepper-spraying the man.

Hilgart then sprayed him with a high-pressure hose and McLeod recorded it on his phone.

Edney repeatedly struck the victim with his baton and stepped on his head.

His psychologist had told triple-zero the man was distressed and vomiting blood, but did not want to see anyone.

"He's going to create a scene so that maybe the police shoot him," the psychologist said in the phone call played to the court.

"He's not going to be happy ... he wants to end his pain. He'll do something to upset (the police), so they take him out.

"I'm feeling very worried now - I don't want this to end badly for him."

Before the assault, McLeod said he had interacted with the pensioner several times before, and he was "generally just talk" and "pretty good with police".

At one point he appeared to "swipe" at McLeod after the front door was opened, another officer at the scene, Stephen Little, told the court.

Mr Little was not charged over the assault.

Mr de Kretser asked Mr Little whether he thought the pensioner had been trying to provoke a suicide-by-police situation. The officer agreed.

McLeod was fined $3500 for unlawful assault, and Hilgart and Edney $1000 each.

Edney is not appealing the finding against him.

The hearing is due to continue on Tuesday.

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