10 August 2023

Chainsaw-wielding man slashes officer in neck with javelin during seven-hour siege

| Albert McKnight
man leaving court

Ashley Horbanowicz was allowed to leave custody when he was sentenced on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A police officer was slashed in the neck with a javelin during a dramatic seven-hour siege that started after his chainsaw-wielding assailant had threatened a neighbour.

Ashley Horbanowicz, 33, admitted being responsible for the violence and spent about 16 months in custody before appearing in the ACT Magistrates Court for sentencing on Wednesday (9 August).

Police were called to his unit in Oaks Estate on 20 April 2022 over reports he had been threatening to harm his neighbour with a chainsaw, Special Magistrate Rebecca Christensen said.

The officers arrived to see him with a chainsaw and tried to speak to him, but he retreated into his home while making threats and barricaded himself inside.

He said something like, “The only way I’m coming out is in a body bag”.

Police tried negotiating with him, but were unsuccessful and tried to enter the unit through a window.

However, Horbanowicz armed himself with a javelin and lunged at an acting sergeant, hitting him in the neck and causing a large cut.

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The acting sergeant was taken to Canberra Hospital while the siege continued. Horbanowicz got a chainsaw from his unit, began revving it to stop police from entering and was described as being “incredibly volatile”.

“I am willing to die and kill anyone who enters my apartment,” he said.

He also threw items out of his window at police, including a circular saw blade on a pole, a motorcycle battery and a smoke alarm.

The negotiations were ultimately exhausted and police forced entry into his home, arrested him and took him to hospital.

“It would have been extremely terrifying for everyone involved,” prosecutor Lewis Etheredge said.

Special Magistrate Rebecca Christensen said he had attacked a police officer who was just trying to do their job and in some respects was trying to help Horbanowicz himself.

His lawyer, Kim Bolas, said he claimed he hadn’t been well at the time and had somewhat of a psychotic episode.

She also argued he had suffered from extra-curial punishment because his dog had been put down since he was taken into custody and he had lost his home. Since then, he had found accommodation though.

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Ms Bolas said her client should be released that day as he had “spent enough time in custody”.

The special magistrate said she accepted Horbanowicz had a difficult and challenging childhood, but did not think the loss of his dog rose to the level of extra-curial punishment.

Horbanowicz pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally wounding, making a reckless threat to kill and possessing weapons with intent.

He was sentenced to a total of 11 months’ jail, suspended from Wednesday for him to be released on a two-year good behaviour order, which meant he was allowed to leave custody that afternoon.

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