A NSW Police officer who viciously beat up a defenseless motorist with “a kick, three punches and a stomp” following a pursuit near Newcastle has escaped all punishment after he successfully convinced a court that he had no memory of the incident and was acting like an ‘automaton’.
Senior constable Christopher Charles Fullick is now seeking for his legal costs to be paid for by the public after successfully raising a barely-used criminal defence involving a claim that he had post-traumatic amnesia and was in the grip of ‘automatism’ during his ruthless attack on speeding driver, Andrew Kirk.
WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE FULL POLICE ATTACK (FAIRFAX MEDIA)
The attack on the dangerous driver took place on 27 January, 2016 in Hamilton, NSW after constable Fullick was involved in a high-speed crash with Mr Kirk that “nearly killed” him, it has been reported by the Newcastle Herald and the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the footage, Mr Fullick is seen being given a pat on the back by another police officer at the scene soon after inflicting a heap of brutality on the already detained and unarmed driver.
At no point during the beating which continued for about 30 seconds did other officers attempt to prevent or stop Mr Fullick from meting out his own unique brand of personal justice.
Mr Fullick was facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault, but was let off all charges after his defence team successfully convinced Magistrate Andrew Eckhold that the 37-year-old police officer could not be discounted of being in the grip of automatism.
Mr Fullick’s argument about being a forgetful automaton was apparently so convincing that Magistrate Eckhold stopped the trial at Newcastle Local Court barely after a day of hearings of what was initially expected to be a four-day trial.
The assault on Mr Kirk was never itself in doubt as video from a police car dashcam captured the violence handed out to the already-captured dangerous driver.
In the video, Mr Fullick is viewed sprinting and planting a kick on the driver before then changing his attack method by bending over and laying into Mr Kirk with a few choice punches.
“There is a kick, three punches and a stomp,” Mr Fullick’s own barrister, Paul Rosser, QC, admitted to the court.
The ruling has seemingly offended large sections of the community.
“When the police can break the law without consequence they are no longer there to “protect and serve”, they are there as an occupying force,” SMH reader Thomas Coyne wrote on Facebook to more than 100 ‘likes’. “Imagine if someone did this to a cop and tried to use this excuse, they’d be locked up no questions asked. One rule for them, another for us.”
Another reader, Robert Williams, called the decision “a load of rubbish”.
“So if the red mist comes with a fight or flight situation and instinct or automatic training kicks in we can say we were acting on automation as we assault people,” Mr Williams wrote on Facebook.
“Ok, so every soldier now has an out if we lose control after some muppet has been a tool and put us in a threatening situation?”
Followers of the Sniff Off Facebook page which tracks the use of sniffer dogs in NSW and elsewhere were also not amused by the court’s lack of punishment towards Mr Fullick.
“Does that mean forced retirement from the NSW Police Force, as the defendant clearly cannot control their own actions and is a danger to the community while in such a position of trust?” Facebook user Jeffree Inferus asked.
True Crime News Weekly sent a number of questions about the matter to NSW Police largely concerning whether Mr Fullick was a danger to the public and himself, if it could not be guaranteed he would again become an ‘automaton’ while on duty. We also asked whether the senior constable would be welcomed back into the police force.
In response, a police spokesperson said any future action against Mr Fullick was determinant on a review currently taking place.
“NSW Police are reviewing the magistrate’s finding,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“The officer remains suspended on pay pending the outcome of the review.”