OC spray comment 'a joke'

A POLICE colleague of Constable Ian Blake said that her 2010 comment about him being "addicted" to using OC spray was "a bad attempt at humour" and merely "banter" between friendly officers over the phone.

Constable Julie-Anna Burbury yesterday told the inquest into the shooting death of Nicholas Whiteley in the Launceston Magistrates Court that Constable Blake had had a reputation for using OC spray more often than other officers.

But despite her comments, Constable Burbury said that she had never seen Constable Blake use the spray in their five years working together, and that she had never heard any allegations of his misuse of the weapon.

The third day of the inquest saw seven active and one retired police officer give evidence about the shooting of Mr Whiteley by Constable Blake at Westbury in November 2010.

Testimonies were taken from Senior Sergeant David Bray and Sergeant Dean McMahon, who were among the first officers to attend the scene after Mr Whiteley had been shot.

Both described the highly emotional state of Constable Blake and the injuries he had suffered as a result of his altercation with the 21-year-old.

Constable Blake had attended Mr Whiteley's house that morning at the request of Mr Whiteley's former partner, Sheena Button.

At that time, Ms Button and Mr Whiteley had just ended their five- year relationship, and she was collected her belongings.

Yesterday's proceedings also saw witnesses asked about Constable Blake's reaction to aggressive situations, and his general use of OC spray.

Constable Burbury, who had often partnered Constable Blake on jobs, was recorded saying that Constable Blake "had done it again" and that he was "addicted" to using OC spray during a phone conversation with police radio at the time of the incident.

This was before she was aware there had been a shooting.

The legal representative for Mr Whiteley's family, Simon Brown, said that the phone conversation was at odds with Constable Burbury's assertion that the comment was a "bad joke".

"I suggest that you were exasperated and annoyed with Constable Blake over the frequent of his use of OC spray," Mr Brown said.

Constable Burbury denied this, and said that there was no basis for her comments.

She said that she believed Constable Blake was an officer who preferred to talk a situation down as opposed to using a weapon.

"It was a bad attempt at humour," she said.

"It was a terrible phone call."The inquest continues today.