Trial told Mayor threw first punch, split protester's nose
A "PRE-EMPTIVE punch" by Gympie Region Mayor Mick Curran was identified yesterday as central to both the prosecution and defence case at the Gympie District Court trial of three Aboriginal land rights activists.
The three are charged over events during a protest and alleged invasion of Gympie Regional Council's Mary St offices almost three years ago.
The long-awaited trial began with opening addresses from Crown Prosecutor Ryder Reid and three of Australia's leading Native Title barristers, Tony McAvoy QC (representing Wit-boooka, charged as Gary Tomlinson, 52, of Southside), Andrew Preston (for Djaa 'mee Gular Djan du Kabi, charged as Mervyn Alfred Hames Tomlinson, 54, of Bundaberg) and David Yarrow (for Djaki Widjung, charged as Diane Patricia Reddden-King, 61, of Curra).
"We're evicting you," Mr Tomlinson is alleged to have told council staff that day.
"If you don't want to be in any trouble, you can move out to the footpath."
Mr Reid said this occurred after Mr Tomlinson had jumped the counter.
This was followed by a warning about being "hurt" and a statement that "We are re-asserting..."
Mr Tomlinson then entered a staff-only area and shouted at staff to get out and that "he was the new Mayor," he said.
Mr Tomlinson pushed a female employee, causing her to bump her head and pushed another staff member "with such force it caused a bruise," the court was told.
It heard the Mayor and council CEO Bernard Smith entered the room and Mr Tomlinson pushed Mr Smith in the shoulder.
This was followed by the Mayor "pre-emptively punching" Mr Tomlinson, who then pushed Cr Curran against a glass partition.
This was the basis of a charge against all three because the other two "were all aware of what he was doing."
The court heard Mervyn Tomlinson then joined in to protect Gary Tomlinson, and Gary Tomlinson "manoeuvred Cr Curran's arm against a door with such force it caused cuts," the basis of a charge of assault with bodily harm.
The first police officer on the scene was met with "ferocious force," causing a bruise to the torso. This was the basis of a charge of serious assault on a police officer in the execution of his duty, the court heard.
Ms Redden-King was charged because her presence and her actions in video recording the event and distributing pamphlets encouraged Gary Tomlinson, Mr Reid said.
Other video, including council CCTV footage, would also be produced and 32 witnesses would be called.
Defence submission began with Mr McAvoy telling jurors there were "critical points in time" including "the moment when my client and the others entered the council building and the moment my client was struck by Mick Curran "with such force it split his nose and caused him to bleed profusely."
Mr Preston said Mervyn Tomlinson had been acting to protect Gary Tomlinson.
"The Mayor, as it has been described, pre-emptively punched Gary Tomlinson in the face.
"No-one was hit in the face and no-one was bleeding until the Mayor got involved," he said.
Mr Yarrow said the case against Diane Redden-King was one of "aiding or encouraging the offending," but he asked jurors to note what she was doing, which involved "distributing pamphlets and recording footage."
The question was whether she was "aiding and encouraging or merely on the sidelines," he said.
The case is continuing.