Police union calls for appeal against sentence for Queenscliff man fined for assaulting police

Published by the Geelong Advertiser on 24 July.

The police union says a Queenscliff man who ­assaulted an officer in a pub brawl should have been jailed, and is urging the force to appeal his sentence.

Glenn Main, 60, was this week found guilty of assaulting an emergency worker at the Queens­cliff Brewhouse in ­August last year, but avoided the mandatory jail sentence ­attached to that charge ­because of a loophole and walked from court with a $5000 fine.

It was decided the man was complicit with a co-offender.

It is understood Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions are considering appealing the sentence handed to Main, who was also found guilty of resisting arrest, recklessly causing injury and ­affray.

The police officer set on during the violent brawl at the Brewhouse told the court he feared for his life at the time, and prosecutor Alana Groves argued Main should be jailed for at least six months, saying police officers had the right to go to work without becoming “punching bags”.

Police union chief Wayne Gatt said he believed the force would appeal the sentence, saying he feared the mandatory sentencing law aimed at protecting officers and other emergency workers would be rendered impotent by the finding that the man was complicit.

“We understand that Victoria Police is seeking a review of this sentence,” Mr Gatt said.

“This appeal must happen on the basis that it could establish a dangerous precedent.”

He said the rule of “complicity” could be potentially ­applied to any group assault emergency workers.

“Potentially, in any incident in which multiple offenders attack police, the defence could use this outcome to help their clients avoid the mandatory minimum penalties, which were specifically legislated for to protect and respect police,” Mr Gatt said.

He said police members were now left questioning if the risk they face at work outweighed the reward of helping the community.

“The lack of respect for them by the court, as police and people, has taken a great toll,” Mr Gatt said.

Western Victorian MP and former police officer Stuart Grimley said any assaults on police had a profound impact on members and their families.

“An assault on a police officer is an assault on the justice system,” Mr Grimley said.

“The message needs to be sent loud and clear from the courts and through the legislation that you cannot assault any emergency service ­worker.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court responding police officer Senior Constable Richard Peers said the incident had affected all ­aspects of his life.

The single father of three teenage boys said he had been “in fear of his life” during the incident and now relived this feeling every time he put on his work uniform.

“The way I work ... has completely changed as a result of the incident,” he said.

“The random unnecessary and uninitiated violence (is something) I’ll worry about for the rest of my life.”

Geelong’s Acting Superintendent Trevor Cornwill said Victoria Police was considering an appeal.

“We are assessing our ­options,” Supt Cornwill said.

A spokesman for the ­Attorney-General said new laws ensure sentences for ­attacking emergency worker were in line with community expectations.

“The changes send the strongest possible message that its unacceptable to assault and injure a police officer, and if you do you can expect to go to jail,” the spokesman said.