A suspended Launceston policeman who armed himself with six knives because he wanted to be killed by police was sentenced in the Supreme Court in Launceston to a suspended four-month jail sentence.
Stephen Clement Burton, 45, of Invermay, pleaded guilty to being unlawfully in possession of a dangerous article in a public place on December 1, 2020.
He also pleaded guilty to threatening police and resisting police.
Justice Robert Pearce said that Burton's bizarre and unpredictable behaviour deserved a prison sentence to protect the public.
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He said he displayed borderline narcissistic traits.
However, he suspended the sentence on the condition that he be of good behaviour for 18 months.
Justice Pearce said the sentencing task was made more difficult because Burton was deemed unsuitable for a home detention order because of the gravity of his alcohol abuse problem.
But he said mental health problems reduced his culpability to a limited extent.
Justice Pearce said Burton, who was dressed in black, armed himself with two machete-style knives and four other knives and walked with a bottle of vodka from Herbert Street, Invermay, to Aurora Stadium.
The court heard that five members of the public had called police around 7.48pm.
A young man approached Burton who told the youth that he had PTSD and wanted to kill himself.
He threw four knives onto the ground and when the young man picked one up he asked him to stab him in the throat five or six times.
Tasmania Police arrived at 7.50pm but Burton was behind a high fence.
When an officer asked him if he was drunk Burton said: "I am as bad as you can possibly get and have done all sorts of things".
"The safest thing would be if you pass me back my vodka. Just give me the f....ing bottle," he said.
In dramatic vision from an officer's body-worn camera, Burton demanded that officers pass him his bottle of vodka.
"The next two coppers who do not hand me the vodka are going to be dead," Burton says.
Police sprayed him with OC spray through the fence and arrested him after a struggle.
Justice Pearce commended police on their handling of the situation saying Burton's behaviour had been bizarre and threatening.
During his plea hearing, the court heard the background to the incident. Burton was suspended from Tasmania Police in March 2017 and was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to events in 2009.
He was convicted in the Launceston Magistrates Court on October 2, 2019, of evading police, going through a red light and disqualified driving.
On Friday, November 29, 2019, Burton applied in the Launceston Magistrates Court for a restricted driver's licence.
Magistrate Sharon Cure granted the licence but the Crown applied for a stay of proceedings pending notice of review - effectively an objection to the granting of the restricted licence.
The court heard that the Crown application upset Burton and contributed to his subsequent behaviour.
Defence counsel Alexander Wells said that Burton had recently received a settlement from Tasmania Police.
He said that Burton's GP Stephen Tredinnick was hopeful that the end of the dispute about entitlements would enable Burton to move forward and stop his destructive behaviour.
He said Burton had no relevant prior offending and had expressed a desire to write to victims to apologise.
Justice Pearce said that would not be prudent in the circumstances.
He said substance abuse, particularly alcohol, was the most significant of Burton's problems.
"There is an urgent need for that dependency to be addressed," he said.
He ordered that two large knives be forfeited.
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