[First filed: July 04, 2009 @ 19:00]
For a couple of weeks now Ainslie residents have been surprised that their shops had a preacher in residence. With long wild black hair and dressed all in black he would stand there addressing no-one in particular making no real sense at all.
The big black headphones clamped over his ears were a particular highlight of the getup. What was he listening to as he preached?
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Today at around 4.20 I was having a beer in Edgars when suddenly the street was full of ambulances and police cars.
A little while later a man, covered in blood, was put into the back of one of the ambulances. The scuttlebutt was that he had been stabbed in the neck.
A friend who had been watching proceedings reported that a man was sitting outside Theo’s Takeaway draped in a white sheet.
I popped out to take a quick photograph and noted that the man in the sheet, supervised by police, appeared to be the preacher and was wearing big black headphones.
And here’s the even scarier part:
Returning to the bar I had time to order a pint when a policeman came in and demanded to see the photograph I had taken.
I asked under what power he was making the demand. He replied, as close as I can recall it:
- “If you don’t delete that photograph I will confiscate your camera as evidence”
Now I believe I could have, in all lawfulness, refused him and would, eventually, have won. But I might well have lost the use of the camera for weeks and spent a night in a cell. When police are already making illegal demands that evidence be destroyed taking the quick way out to be able to tell the tale strikes me as the better way to go.
Especially as my understanding is that the delete button on a camera does not actually destroy the image, only make it hard to find. As I type retrieval software is working over the card (and disco, it worked). I deleted the photograph with him watching over my shoulder and then we went for a little browse of my camera checking for other images.
If the photograph was evidence: I had been instructed to destroy it, by a policeman, on threat of being deprived of my property.
If it is not evidence: ACT Policing are illegally ordering the destruction of images they find inconvenient, with the threat of deprivation of property and/or liberty.
I consider both possibilities to be of grave concern.
Either way it suggests police are more than happy to use the threat of confiscation of “evidence” to achieve outcomes they have no legal basis for.
[I should note, however, that the police response in general was extremely swift and effective. Around an hour after the incident the man in the white sheet was quietly and gently placed in the back of a van, and his headphones finally removed.]
FURTHER UPDATE: The police media release on the incident is now online:
- A 36-year old Ainslie man is assisting police with their inquiries following a stabbing at Ainslie on July 4.
About 4.30pm police and ambulance officers were called to the Ainslie shops on Edgar Street where a 43-year-old man had received multiple stab wounds to his head and neck area. Paramedics stabilised the man before transporting him to The Canberra Hospital where his condition is listed as serious but stable.
A man was apprehended at the scene and was treated by ambulance officers for minor injuries to his hand. He is currently being questioned by police.
AFP Forensics officers are on site and investigations into the incident are continuing.
Police are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.