Officer recounts moments before fatal shots were fired
ONE of the first officers on the scene of a confrontation between a serial stalker brandishing a knife and police attempting to apprehend him has spoken of the terrifying moments before shots were fired.
Senior Constable Logan O'Donohue was giving evidence at the inquest into the shooting death of Paul Lambert two years ago on the Pacific Highway at Bonville on November 3.
Today he told the Coffs Harbour Coroner's Court that just prior to the shooting Mr Lambert was heard to say 'If I come at you are you going to shoot me?'.
"He said that quite a few times," Sn Cnst O'Donohue added.
In the months leading up to the dramatic confrontation he had terrorised Port Macquarie obstetrician Dr Angela Jay whom he met on Tinder and briefly dated.
He had a long history of being controlling and violent towards women and when these relationships soured he would engage in dramatic and dishonest behaviour - inventing fake illnesses or even claiming to have had a twin who died in tragic circumstances.
On the night of Mr Lambert's death he had hidden in a wardrobe at her home; attacking her with a knife and dousing her in petrol after she returned from a long shift at the hospital. She was able to break free and alert a neighbour.
Snr Constable O'Donohue was conducting random breath tests with partner Craig Miles in the Kempsey area when he was alerted to the situation and told to keep an eye out for the white Toyota Corolla hire car Mr Lambert was driving.
"I heard there had been a stabbing and the driver was wanted in relation to it."
Telecommunication towers were used to pinpoint Mr Lambert's location and officers O'Donohue and Miles commenced a pursuit.
Snr Cst O'Donohue, who was in the passenger seat during the pursuit, told the court Mr Lambert drove at high speed (documents indicate speeds reached between 150 and 180km per hour) and at one point turned the lights off and crossed onto the wrong side of the road.
The nature of his driving made Snr Cnst O'Donohue think "he had something on board" meaning weapons.
Road spikes were eventually deployed by fellow officers at Bonville and O'Donoghue and Miles were soon on the scene.
"I recall the driver getting out of the car with what I distinctly remember being a knife in his hand."
During the foot pursuit that followed, Mr Lambert refused to drop the knife and Snr Cst O'Donohue used a torch to temporarily blind Mr Lambert (potentially allowing for a safe arrest) and also to alert motorists.
When lawyers assisting Deputy State Coroner Magistrate O'Sullivan asked him if he was scared of being hit by traffic he answered "absolutely".
With officers from various locations including Bellingen, Nambucca and plain clothed officers from Coffs Harbour on the scene he was asked if there was a clear indication of who was in control of the situation to which he answered simply: "no".
Other officers involved in the incident will front the court in coming days.
In emotional testimony yesterday Dr Jay commended police for their actions throughout her ordeal.
"I am grateful for the actions of the NSW Police. I think they are very brave and that they're all heroes."