'Stop police abuse'

QUEENSLAND’S Police Union president Ian Leavers has condemned soft sentences for offenders who assault police officers, following a six-day jail sentence handed to a man who “sucker-punched” a Warwick policeman.

Mr Leavers has called on the government to stop allowing police officers to be used as “punching bags” and implement mandatory jail sentences for offenders who seriously assault police.

Toowoomba man Ketchall Dennis Lingwoodock, 20, was last week sentenced for the assault in which he unexpectedly punched a Warwick policeman in the chest, after taunting and berating him with obscene comments.

Lingwoodock was sentenced to six-days jail – which was time already served after he was captured by police after failing to appear in court – and 180 hours of community service for the assault.

While Mr Leavers said he believed “any term of imprisonment would be a start”, he conceded Lingwoodock’s sentence was less than should be expected for a serious assault on a police officer.

“The public expects someone who seriously injures a police officer to serve more than a week,” he said.

“Every week police officers end up in hospitals and the lucky ones get to go home that day.”

Mr Leavers said it was time for the government to tackle the growing issue of violence against police with both mandatory jail sentences and increasing police numbers across the state.

He said mandatory sentences had seen amazing results across Western Australia, accrediting a 30% reduction in assaults on police to the move.

“But our government would rather bury its head in the sand and allow police officers to be used as punching bags than do something about it.”

The incident for which Lingwoodock was sentenced took place in Palmerin St on April 17, when the Warwick officer was called to respond to a disturbance.

The policeman was confronted by a hostile Lingwoodock who unleashed a barrage of four-letter expletives on the officer before unloading a sucker-punch to the chest.

Threats of capsicum spray temporarily subdued Lingwoodock, however after being taken back to the police station, he again became defiant and aggressive, making several threats against police.

Lingwoodock was also given a 29-month driving disqualification for his third drink-driving offence, in which he returned a 0.096 reading and driving while disqualified.

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