30 June 2023

Petrol poured over police officer while he tried to pull man from burning shed

| Albert McKnight
man gives a thumbs up to camera as he leaves court

John William Nocen, 43, gives a thumbs up to media after pleading guilty. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A man has admitted to pouring petrol over a police officer who had tried to pull him out of a shed he’d just set on fire.

John William Nocen had separated from his ex-partner before arriving at her home on the night of 10 January 2023 and threatening to smash the house up if he didn’t get some of his belongings, court documents say.

His ex arrived to see him throwing items onto the ground outside his car. He was holding a torch and told her, “I wonder how much this would hurt if I punched you in the face with it”, then allegedly used it to hit her on the leg, causing a 5 cm cut.

He allegedly punched her, smashed a window to enter the home and tried looking for some of his belongings before leaving the house, saying “I’ll just f-king burn everything then”.

He went into a shed in the backyard with a petrol-filled jerry can and a cigarette in his mouth and started to splash petrol around the shed’s floor.

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Police arrived to see Nocen use a cigarette lighter to set fire to the floor, so an officer tried to pull him out of the building.

He resisted, forced the officer backwards into a fence and in the process ended up pouring petrol from the jerry can all over the officer’s uniform and body.

He dropped the jerry can while the pair got into a wrestle, during which the officer was punched in the legs as well as elbowed in the stomach several times.

The pair fell to the ground and the officer felt burning sensations on his arm because Nocen had been igniting his cigarette lighter during the struggle.

Police used capsicum spray on him while he continued resisting.

John William Nocen departs court on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Eventually, he was placed under arrest and was initially refused bail when he first appeared in court, but it was granted a couple of months later.

He appeared in the ACT Galambany Court on Wednesday (28 June) where he pleaded guilty to fresh charges, being two counts of intentionally and unlawfully using an inflammable substance in circumstances dangerous to another person.

It had originally been alleged that Nocen had tried to set the police officer on fire, but this allegation was removed in the amended court documents that were tendered on the day.

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Four other charges that had been laid against the 43-year-old Gordon man were withdrawn by the prosecutor.

Special Magistrate Anthony Hopkins adjourned for him to be sentenced on 24 August then asked him, “How are you going?”

“Steady, steady,” he replied.

“Steady, steady, is probably excellent,” the special magistrate said.

Nocen later gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign to media waiting outside the courthouse. He remains on bail.

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