Father of train brothers charged over vile abuse

Published by the Herald Sun on June 19, 2019

The father of two men who allegedly savagely bashed a police commissioner has been charged with threatening police online.

Jared Pihlgren, 49, will face court over a series of vile social media posts in which he allegedly menaced officers and labelled them “maggots” and “dogs”.

He has been charged with recording court proceedings, intimidating law enforcement officers and use a telecommunication device to menace.

He is expected to front the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court shortly.

Yesterday, a court heard that the two brothers accused of bashing top transport cop Chris O’Neill shaved their heads to avoid detection after police released CCTV in their manhunt to find them.

Jay Stephens, 20, and his younger brother Isaiah, 18, faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today with their locks gone after being charged on Monday night over Saturday’s alleged assault.

The court heard police found the hair in their bedrooms when raiding their Malvern East boarding house on Monday.

The pair fled out their windows but were arrested soon after and charged over the alleged attack on the off-duty Transit and Public Safety Command Assistant Commissioner near Heyington train station.

Outside court yesterday, Mr Pihlgren would not comment when pressed about his son’s alleged actions.

But he instead turned the focus on Mr O’Neill and repeatedly asked: “Why did he follow them?”

He allegedly called Mr O’Neill “a dog” and suggested he had deliberately targeted his sons.

The court had heard Mr Pihlgren has “an extreme hatred for the police” and had not co-operated in assisting with his sons’ arrest when contacted at 6pm on Sunday.

On Facebook, Mr Pihlgren allegedly wrote earlier: “F--- the police.”

The court heard Mr O’Neill, 60, was attacked after he followed and confronted the pair as they entered St Kevin’s College grounds, near the station’s entrance.

He had watched them be ejected from the train for anti-social behaviour moments earlier.

Acting Detective Sergeant Matthew Rizun said Jay Stephens got up into Mr O’Neill’s face and “tried to start a fight”, throwing several punches.

Brother Isaiah then rushed in and also punched the off-duty policeman from behind, Det-Sgt Rizun said, before both young men fled on foot.

Mr O’Neill suffered three fractured ribs, contusions on his lungs and bruising to his face and had to be taken to hospital, the court heard.

Det-Sgt Rizun said Jay Stephens had been a “bad influence” on his younger brother.

Jay Stephens only appeared briefly in the dock and was remanded to reappear in September.

But his younger brother, supported by Mr Pihlgren, who also goes by Mr Pilgren, made a bid for bail.

Police opposed his release, saying he was a flight risk as his mother and another brother live in Western Australia.

Before the alleged assault, the brothers had earlier been intimidating passengers on platform 10 at Southern Cross station, before getting on the Glen Waverley train where their drunken behaviour continued, Det-Sgt Rizun said.

“On the platform, they were hitting monitors … swearing and stuff,” Det-Sgt Rizun said.

“They were loud. They were pacing up and down. Their actions were just intimidating.”

One witness told police Isaiah was so intoxicated, he vomited on the train. But his lawyer Greg Thomas said he disputes this.

He said his client had a stable job and home to live in if bailed, and proposed strict conditions including working with youth justice and reporting to police.

Magistrate Duncan Reynolds adjourned his decision to Friday so a youth justice assessment could be undertaken.

They have been charged with intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury, and intentionally and recklessly causing injury.