ACT Court’s Revolving Door Policy Works for Cops Too!

Ingeegoodbee 8 November 2007 21

The ABC website has this story on the conviction and sentencing of ex-doughnut muncher John Arthur Birch who somehow managed a 27 year carreer with the AFP before getting done for repeatedly assaulting guests at the Civic Watch House with capsicum spray.

In keeping with the ACT court systems revolving door policy on sentencing and punishment Magistrate John Burns gave birch a slap on the wrist (3 month suspended sentence) and a koala stamp (12 month good behaviour bond).

I’d say this porcine public servant should consider himself lucky he didn’t end up with a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Strangely the Police Union aren’t out and about calling for tougher sentencing on this one.


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21 Responses to ACT Court’s Revolving Door Policy Works for Cops Too!
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Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 11:13 pm 10 Nov 07

People bought to the City Watch House are essentially in the care of the police – It’s a shame that this gutless lazy a-hole thought he was just doing his job when he assaulted these people … I’d be worried about his family – it would surprise me if he was beating his wife and kids or getting off on molesting his dog, after all its essentially the same mindset.

The low self-esteem and poor character of the plods who casually just stood by surprises me too. I know that, given police wages, your never really going to attract much, but you’d think that having a spine would be a pre-requisite.

bd84 bd84 3:45 pm 10 Nov 07

Special G, absolutely correct.

They were minor assults, he got all he deserved really. No doubt he wasn’t doing it to the people who walked in normally and didn’t make a fuss anyway. Judging by the reaction of the other officers in the footage, it looks like it was a culture problem in that it was accepted by all and this guy just takes the heat for them all.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 8:54 pm 08 Nov 07

Having had first hand experience with both capsicum spray and the old original “mace” I’m not sure if I’d ever call the result of their use a ‘minor assault’ but I’d agree that perspective is indeed warranted.

I suspect though, that the sad reality of this story is that the easy availability of the capsicum spray and surveillance techniques conspired to “out” a bad nut who has, in all probability, been availing himself of all manner of offensive weapons and more traditional devices of assault over his 27 year career. In the 70s it was probably an old footy sock with a couple of billiard balls purloined from the Workies or the Buffalo Grill…

Special G Special G 8:41 pm 08 Nov 07

Given the regular standard of the ACT Courts this is quite a harsh sentence. Bear in mind these were minor assaults in teh grand scheme of things with no injuries. Compare it to Ambers form. I am not condoning in any way what he did although I wouldn’t call for the gallows either.

Chances of him reoffending – probably none.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 2:36 pm 08 Nov 07

“One other interesting point about this case… if there had not been a video camera recording the evidence, does anyone believe that the complaints of the nine would have have resulted in any action other than a dismissal of their cases as ‘the ravings of demented drunks’???”

Very good point! I guess I would have thought, “they probably deserved it”, but after seeing that footage it certainly proves that most victims didn’t deserve it at all.

Sammy Sammy 2:25 pm 08 Nov 07

I was astonished at how casually the officer sprayed those people with capsicum spray, and with no physical provocation from the victims. It was like “oh well, i’ve had enough of listening to you talk, so here, have a face full of capsicum spray”.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 1:47 pm 08 Nov 07

I remember when a school acquaintance got capsicum sprayed a few years back (it was the night of yr 12 grad, and admittedly, they were acting quite stupid to the police) when we were doing a walk-back-to-school-from-Civic.
They got about five seconds warning that the police felt threatened before they and the person behind them got sprayed. Both went to the ground, but only the intended recipient got taken away back to Civic, and the collateral victim got to weep all the way back from Parliament house to Woden…

I think there’s a cultural perception re: capsicum spray of “it doesn’t do any lasting damage so its fine”.

JD114 JD114 1:32 pm 08 Nov 07

One other interesting point about this case… if there had not been a video camera recording the evidence, does anyone believe that the complaints of the nine would have have resulted in any action other than a dismissal of their cases as ‘the ravings of demented drunks’???

You cant be nonconformist if you dont drink coffee You cant be nonconformist if you dont drink coffee 1:22 pm 08 Nov 07

Some of the other coppers shown in the footage were quietly told to resign or else. The one I know took this option and has now joined the military… yeah, cos we need more mentalists with short fuses and zero sense of social responsibility in the armed forces!

VicePope VicePope 1:20 pm 08 Nov 07

If you or I went around assaulting people like this, on more than one occasion, we would get a custodial sentence. Capsicum spray is nasty stuff, and can dangerous to some people.

The ex-copper was probably entitled to a discount for pleading guilty/cooperation, a discount for previous good behaviour and a discount for the loss of his position in the AFP (assuming his resignation was somehow connected with this matter). As well, there is a reluctance to imprison coppers because prison can be so hard for them. Balanced against that, the gravity of his conduct was aggravated by his position and experience, by the bad effects on less experienced coppers and the effect on public faith in the AFP. On balance, I think he can say he got away lightly.

Fluges Fluges 12:47 pm 08 Nov 07

What about the other coppers standing around while the victims were being sprayed? Or actually holding the victim in front of that vicious AFP thug with the capsicum spray. What’s happened to them?

bonfire bonfire 12:25 pm 08 Nov 07

i note a taser was used at the race track.

i thought the taser was to be used when lives were in peril, as an alternative to lethal force.

anyone have better info on the tasering ?

Mr Evil Mr Evil 12:05 pm 08 Nov 07

The scary thing was that in all the footage he looked quite casual, like he was spraying for flies or something! He nearly sprayed one of his colleagues in one of the clips shown on the ABC.

Only in a couple of cases did it look like it could have been neccessary to use the Capsicum spray, all the others made him look like a small membered vindictive bastard.

hk0reduck hk0reduck 10:37 am 08 Nov 07

I believe i’m a good citizen and unlikely to be arrested any time in the future, so I don’t really care if his sentence was ‘deemed’ light.

I’m sure at least one of them deserved it.

sepi sepi 10:21 am 08 Nov 07

He did resign tho, so reoffending is unlikely.

TAD TAD 10:20 am 08 Nov 07

John forgot that it wasn’t the 70s any more.

I think that the sentence is on par with your average stabbing sentence in the ACT Courts these days. Anything more would have been excessive.

shiny flu shiny flu 10:15 am 08 Nov 07

Possibly he thought it was a can of silly string and was trying to cheer them up?

Or not.

Stung Stung 10:11 am 08 Nov 07

saw the footage… what a piece of work.. Guys were just standing there talking when he would spray them in the face from 1m away… A true piece of sh*t cop

DarkLadyWolfMother DarkLadyWolfMother 10:02 am 08 Nov 07

Birch’s lawyer, John Purnell, SC, had argued that routinely dousing detainees with capsicum spray was part of the watch-house culture.

Oh, well, that’s all right then.

S4anta S4anta 9:39 am 08 Nov 07

or he has really opened a can of worms for himself

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