James Whitikau Barton
The Press, 7th April 2004
A man who attacked and injured a policeman with a car wheel brace has been jailed for six years. James Whitikau Barton, 31, was jailed by Christchurch District Court Judge Murray Abbott for an attack on State Highway 1, near Amberley on September 5, 2002. Barton had been found guilty by a jury of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and admitted a charge of driving while disqualified.
Prosecutor Craig Ruane said it was very lucky that passers-by had stopped. There was no justification at all for Barton's behaviour, and police had shown extraordinary restraint in the circumstances. "It is a situation that must be feared by all law enforcement officers and there have been tragedies in the past," Ruane said. The judge said an officer had pulled over a Nissan vehicle with three occupants and noticed them changing places.
The car was unregistered and unwarranted, and he was obliged to impound it. A second car stopped, also with three occupants, who were known to Barton, and a second police officer arrived to help. Barton's brother smashed a window of the Nissan with a wheel brace and was pepper-sprayed. Barton then grabbed the brace and swung it at an officer, who deflected the blow with his arm. Barton was then pepper-sprayed, and restrained.
By this time four members of the public had also stopped to help, the judge said. The situation was potentially very dangerous for police, where two officers were dealing with six aggressive people. He was prepared to accept Barton acted out of a misguided sense of loyalty. "But you acted extremely aggressively and using a weapon against a police officer doing no more and no less than his duty," the judge said.
Counsel Kelly Hennessy said in mitigation that Barton acted out of loyalty to his younger brother. Barton was remorseful and apologised to the officer on the night. While on bail he had not reoffended, and he had a job and a stable family unit, Hennessy said. Barton had relevant previous convictions, including assaulting police, aggravated robbery, and assault with a weapon.
Date of Birth
Wounding of a police officer with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in September 2002
A number of previous convictions for similar offending
Sentenced to six years in April 2004
Reduced to five years on appeal
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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