Coward’s Punch: Spalding man charged with Northgate Shopping Centre assault

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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Northgate Shopping Centre in Geraldton
Camera IconNorthgate Shopping Centre in Geraldton Credit: Tamra Carr/Geraldton Guardian

A Spalding man has been charged following an alleged coward’s punch on a bystander at a shopping centre when he was apprehended during an attempt to shoplift food.

At 3.50pm on October 4, Geraldton Detectives arrested a 27-year-old man, charging him with common assault, criminal damage and robbery.

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Sen. Sgt Chris Martin said the man was involved in a “scuffle” with a security guard at Northgate Shopping Centre when he was asked to hand over a quantity of food, worth less than $50, which he had allegedly stolen from a shop, and was asked to leave the mall.

It is further alleged he handed some of the items over but refused to give up everything and was acting aggressively, raising a can of food over his head and making verbal threats.

Outside, the man is alleged to have spat on the shopping centre’s doors and thrown an aerosol can at them, causing damage.

A member of the public who tried to help security was also allegedly punched twice in the head by the offender and knocked to the ground.

The man left the centre on a push bike and was found by police on Pope Street soon afterwards in possession of allegedly stolen property, and charged.

Speaking to the Geraldton Guardian, the alleged victim said he wanted to help de-escalate the situation out of concern for children in the centre.

“I tried to help and started talking to him to try and get him to leave,” he said.

My concern was for the wellbeing of the security guards and wanted to get him out of the way of kids to be dealt with by the police.

“I don’t buy into ‘Dero Gero.’ I have lived here for a long while and this is the first time I have been involved with anything like this.”

Sen. Sgt Martin said while he praised the member of the public wanting to help, the risks of trying to help during a violent incident usually were not worth it.

“We always advise that police should be contacted first before members of the public take matters into their own hands,” he said.

“The public are able to make citizens’ arrests and I praise this person for wanting to help, but we wouldn’t advise doing this unless it is absolutely necessary due to the risk.”

The accused faced Geraldton Magistrates Court last week and was released on bail with conditions including a curfew, not being allowed to consume alcohol, a ban from entering Northgate Shopping Centre, and other protective conditions. He is due to reappear in court on October 28.

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