Patrick Douglas John Greham: Geraldton man spared jail for police assault in Northbridge

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Courthouse.
Camera IconGeraldton Courthouse. Credit: Geraldton Guardian/Geraldton Guardian

A Geraldton man who kicked a police vehicle’s door into an officer’s face, causing serious concussion, has been spared jail despite a plea from police to the court to send a message that “we are not punching bags”.

Patrick Douglas John Greham, 32, was handed a suspended sentence in Geraldton’s Magistrate Court last Wednesday after pleading guilty to five charges, including assaulting a public officer in Northbridge, disorderly behaviour and failing to comply with a request to give police personal details.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Burkinshaw told the court Greham had been speaking with police five minutes prior to the incident on February 25, but left yelling racist remarks at the officers.

Police intervened when he started arguing with another group of men and attempted to headbutt one of them.

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Greham was arrested for disorderly behaviour and as he was being transferred to the police vehicle, he turned around while the door was being closed and kicked it open into an officer’s face.

The officer was knocked back and Greham kept trying to kick.

Sgt Burkinshaw told the court the officer had to be taken to hospital, suffering a sprained neck and concussion from the assault.

When he was discharged from hospital, the officer later collapsed in his kitchen and further examination found he had suffered a secondary concussion which could last for months and cause more episodes.

Greham’s lawyer Kate Summers said the injury to the officer was not intentional.

“He kicked the door and the actions that Mr Greham performed that led to the injury was not intended but consequential,” she said.

Sgt Burkinshaw told the court Greham had an issue with people in authority in the past and would have known that kicking the door an officer was trying to close would obviously hit the officer.

“Violence against police officers is increasing as we can see in the media and we need to send a message,” he said.

“We are not punching bags and we need to send a message that this is not appropriate.”

Ms Summers said Greham had been going through a rough point in his life when the incident occurred.

“There had been a breakdown with his mother and ex-partner and two children and his life became unstable,” she said.

“He was living in Perth, but his lease expired and he could not keep a job.”

Magistrate Angus Hockton said the officers were “doing their job and they have to deal with people that are disorderly”.

“The police have to step in, I can just walk or run away if I want to, but the police have to step in and deal with it, when you make their job dangerous, there must be a penalty that comes with that,” he said.

“The community depends on them doing the service they do, like the officer said, they are not punching bags.”

Mr Hockton further condemned the actions of Greham and the damage he caused.

“Your victim was hospitalised not just once but twice because of what you did, and they are a vulnerable victim because they are just doing their job,” he said.

Greham was given an eight-month jail term, suspended without conditions for 12 months.

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