Gisborne community campaigned for 24-hour cop shop weeks before murder

Published by Macedon Ranges Leader on April 16, 2019.

Gisborne community members met police to campaign for a 24-hour police station just weeks before a man was unable to hand himself in following a death in the town.

Victoria Police have confirmed the 55-year-old, who was charged with murder on Monday evening, visited the Gisborne police station about 5.30pm on Sunday, only to find it shut.

Police in Kyneton were alerted to his presence and he was arrested later on Sunday by a Gisborne sergeant at a Rodney St address.

Macedon Ranges Leader understands between 40-60 people vented their concerns about police staffing levels at a meeting in Gisborne in February.

“The theme of the meeting was largely driven by people who had been driven by burglaries and thefts,” he said.

“They wanted to drive the fact Gisborne needed to be a 24/7 station.”

Mr McConville said, in his experience, local police worked as hard as they could.

“Our local police all work to the best of their abilities. I think Inspector (Chris) Large and his team are doing a great job, but we want them to have more resources,” he said.

“We want the relevant bureaucracies to meet the needs of the growing region.

“It reinforces the community’s position that we like to see our police and we’d like to see more resources added to the area.”

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt told Macedon Ranges Leader the incident highlighted an ongoing issue throughout the shire.

“Our members are routinely rostered to work alone, as indeed was the case last night,” he said.

“One of our members was required to effectively make an arrest of somebody who had allegedly been involved in the death of another person. This is all pointing to a resourcing situation that continues to pose a threat to our members’ health and safety.”

He said the problem extended to Woodend where the station had “effectively been shut for the best part of two years”.

Gisborne business owner Tony Bongiovanni also attended the meeting.

“It’s all very well to say we’re a low-risk area, but we need deterrence. We need to have police presence so crime doesn’t happen,” he said.

Former Sunbury police officer and Macedon Ranges councillor John Letchford said the incident highlighted a need for more officers in the growing community.

At the last census, central Gisborne had 9000 residents.

“While tragic as it is that a life has been taken from this earth, it’s even more tragic is that I’ve now heard a person wanted to hand themselves in and no one was immediately available,” Mr Letchford said.

Macedon Ranges Inspector Chris Large declined to comment on the basis of an ongoing investigation.