Leighton Solomon Tewhaiti, 26.
Leighton Solomon Tewhaiti, 26. Matt Harris

'Coward dog act': Mates choke, punch police officer

ONE man held the police officer in a headlock so the other could punch him in the face.

It was this violent assault of a Gladstone police officer by two drunk mates a magistrate has labelled a "mongrel coward dog-act" and "un-Australian" in a court hearing today.

Co-accused Aaron Andrew Channell, 21 and Leighton Solomon Tewhaiti, 26 appeared in Gladstone Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty two one count each of the serious assault of a police officer causing bodily harm and obstruct police.

Tewhaiti was charged with an additional drug utensil possession.

The court heard on June 27 Tewhaiti was having drinks at his New Auckland address with mates when he got into an argument with his house mate.

When it became heated Channell got in between the pair and tried to break it up, the court heard.


Aaron Andrew Channell, 21.
Aaron Andrew Channell, 21. Matt Harris

The argument turned into a "screaming match" between the co-accused men, who had turned on each other in their drunken state.

Police arrived at the address and attempted to "keep the peace" between the men, separating them and moving them to different areas of the house.

The co-accused men continued to "snipe" at each other when a male officer put this arm out to stop Channell.

Seeing this, Tewhaiti "raced" over to the officer and put him in a choke-hold.

Channell punched the officer in the face.

The other officer used capsicum spray on the men to break it up but Tewhaiti had to be "pried off" the officer.

Channell was represented by lawyer Cassandra Ditchfield who said her client was struggling with an alcohol problem at the time and had little recollection of the incident.

She said the severity of the incident had mostly sobered her client, who now only ever drinks occasionally on weekends.

She said at the time of offending Channell did not recognise the police.

Lawyer Jun Pepito said his client, Tewhaiti, knew he should have "moved on" when police arrived.

Magistrate Brian Kucks called it a "mongrel, coward dog-act" towards the police officer, who was trying to de-escalate the situation.

Mr Kucks said Channell took the "golden opportunity" of Tewhaiti holding the officer around the neck to "snot him in the face".

"You won't take someone on unless they are being held back," Mr Kucks said.

"It's extremely un-Australian".

"Not to mention a gross disrespect for authority and rule of law."

Channell was sentenced to nine months jail wholly suspended for two years with a conviction recorded.

Mr Kucks said Tewhaiti's offending was "far more serious" given his criminal history and the element of choking.

Tewhaiti was sentenced to 15 months jail, with immediate parole release and a conviction recorded.

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