Eyewitness account: A not-so-average day in the courtroom

Gladstone Police Station and Court House. February 2017.
Gladstone Police Station and Court House. February 2017. Paul Braven GLA010217_Police_Cou

THE accused man sitting in the dock at the Gladstone Magistrates Court yesterday, Peter James Pearson, appeared calm and collected.

Enclosed by glass walls, the 31-year-old was awaiting a ruling by the magistrate on whether he would receive bail on 20 charges yesterday.

The courtroom was quiet as Gladstone Magistrate Melanie Ho read out facts of the offending and information needed before considering bail.

In front of me sat the accused man's defence lawyer, Matthew Heelan, and police prosecutor sergeant Barry Stevens.

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Next to me in the gallery sat another lawyer, watching the proceedings.

We all turned our attention towards the dock at the sound of the glass being banged upon.

All of a sudden the man had gone from sitting quietly to hanging halfway up the wall of the dock, using his arms to pull himself up over the walls, with his feet pressed up against the glass.

He jumped and landed outside the dock, but in about a second, Sgt Stevens was up and trying to restrain the man.

Another officer, who had brought the man into the dock, ran over to help.

His strong will to escape showed in his efforts to break free of the officers' grasps, however, and he slowly inched to the courtroom door.

Both lawyers in the courtroom had moved to the other side of the room towards the nearest exit.

I turned to Ms Ho, who was also standing near the door closest to her desk.

She told everyone to clear the room and opened the door.

I was closer to the struggle and closer to the main entrance of the courtroom, and in a brief moment of uncertainty, I paused.

Ms Ho called out to me to "leave".

Running out into the empty main foyer of the courthouse, it was clear no one knew what was happening inside, and again, I paused.

We all heard loud bangs and noises from inside the room as the struggle ensued.

About eight officers ran to help restrain the man.

Officers pulled him back into the courtroom and presumably back to the watch-house.

When the situation had calmed, the bail application for the man continued in his absence.

Bail was refused and there were no further submissions or arguments from either party.

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