Council fracas: Bundaberg man tells Gympie court of his role
BUNDABERG man Merv Tomlinson yesterday told Gympie District Court he was trying to keep the peace when he entered the Gympie Regional Council call centre on May 31.
Mr Tomlinson testified he had hearing problems after being born deaf in the left ear and suffering hearing damage in his right ear, from a lifetime working in noisy workshops.
Aboriginal land rights activist Wit-boooka, charged as Gary Tomlinson, was his second cousin, Merv Tomlinson testified.
His barrister, Andrew Preston said Mr Tomlinson had entered the call centre area with co-accused Diane Redden-King, after a council employee opened a door to let them in, in the hope they could calm the situation.
This had been confirmed in evidence from the employee.
Mervyn Tomlinson had "stood aside as much as you can in a small room” as the melee broke out, centred on Wit-boooka and Gympie Region mayor Mick Curran.
Merv Tomlinson told the court he had heard someone say, "She's got a camera, stop her,” but did not know who said it.
Council employee Dimitri Scordalides had turned and walked towards Ms Redden-King, but Mr Tomlinson said he had held his hands up in a gesture meaning "halt” and had said: "Don't touch her.”
Mr Scordalides then turned back to the mayor and Wit-boooka also said to "leave her alone.”
Mr Tomlinson said he noticed the mayor strike Wit-boooka, who stumbled backwards a couple of steps.
"I said, 'Oi, oi, that's enough of that. There's no need for that,” Mr Tomlinson testified.
He said he had forced himself into the middle of the melee to keep the protagonists apart and found himself in the same position as council CEO Bernard Smith, who seemed to be trying to do the same thing.
Mr Tomlinson said Wit-boooka (Gary Tomlinson, of Southside) was his second cousin.
He said his family had links to the Aboriginal ownership of the near-Gympie area.
The case continues.