A senior Toowoomba police officer has denied he blamed Brett Forte’s widow for her husband’s murder at the hands of paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.
A senior Toowoomba police officer has denied he blamed Brett Forte’s widow for her husband’s murder at the hands of paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.

Top cop denies blaming widow for Brett Forte’s murder

The head of the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad has denied claims he blamed Senior Constable Brett Forte's widow for her husband's murder at the hands of paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.

Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut also denied he had a series of run-ins with Maddison in the years before Sen Const Forte was murdered.

Under cross examination by barrister David Funch, who is representing Sen Const Forte's wife Susie, Sen Sgt Stahlhut denied he had blamed Ms Forte for the death of her husband.

"I completely disagree with that," Sen Sgt Stahlhut responded when asked.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut denied threatening Sen Const Cath Nielsen with a 466 police complaint.

 

Brett Forte’s widow, Senior Constable Susie Forte arrives at Toowoomba Courthouse for the inquest into the shooting death of her husband.
Brett Forte’s widow, Senior Constable Susie Forte arrives at Toowoomba Courthouse for the inquest into the shooting death of her husband.

He denied "intimidating" Senior Constable Cath Nielsen so that she would stop asking questions about how much he knew of automatic gunfire reports in the area where the shooting occurred.

"Was it the case that you intimidated Cath Nielsen for the purpose that she kept her mouth shut and stopped asking questions about Brett's death that could get you into trouble," Mr Funch said.

"No," Sen Sgt Stahlhut said.

Mr Funch asked Sen Sgt Stahlhut if he accused Cath Nielsen of ripping the TC office apart.

"I disagree," Sen Sgt Stahlhut responded.

When asked if he could provide any recommendations to the coroner about avoiding a similar situation in the future Sen Sgt Jenkins said "realistically not".

"Brett and Cath were ambushed," he said.

"It was a dynamic situation."

Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad head Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut.
Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad head Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut.

 

Gunman threatened to ambush crime boss

Ricky Maddison threatened to ambush the head of the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad and shoot him with "automatic weapons", the inquest has heard.

Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut told the court he was made aware of the threat by a Brisbane detective's intel report in 2017.

"Ricky Maddison and his son Shane had a plan to shoot police with automatic weapons in an ambush in a driveway with them hiding behind mulch piles," barrister David Funch told the hearing.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut agreed, admitting he was the target.

"Maddison and his son Shane had talked about ambushing me in the driveway of a property ... in Toowoomba," he agreed.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said he had no personal dislike of Maddison and did not recall being involved in a search warrant of his property in 2007.

 

Ricky Maddison was at the top of the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad’s “most wanted” list in the days before he shot and killed Senior Constable Brett Forte.
Ricky Maddison was at the top of the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad’s “most wanted” list in the days before he shot and killed Senior Constable Brett Forte.

 

Top cop denies run-ins with Ricky Maddison

Sen Sgt Stahlhut told the inquest into Sen Const. Forte's murder and the shooting death of Ricky Maddison that the gunman had been considered an "extreme" risk domestic violence offender.

He said by May in 2017 - in the days before Sen Const. Forte was shot - Maddison had topped their "most wanted" list.

But he told the inquest he'd had few dealings with Maddison in the years prior, denying claims made in court that the gunman had once confronted him in the toilets of the Highfields Tavern.

Sen Const. Forte was killed on May 29, 2017, by known criminal Ricky Maddison, following a low-speed pursuit at Seventeen Mile in the Lockyer Valley.

The inquest heard Maddison's behaviour had become increasingly erratic in the days leading up to Sen Const. Forte's murder, with the gunman having spent two months avoiding an arrest warrant over a domestic violence matter.

The inquest heard Maddison had been calling police in Toowoomba from pay phones, telling them "youse (sic) know where I am" and "I left enough trails".

On the afternoon of May 29, Maddison was spotted in Toowoomba and pursued by several police vehicles down the Warrego Hwy before he veered off the road.

Senior Constable Brett Forte was killed in the Lockyer Valley on May 29, 2017, by paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.
Senior Constable Brett Forte was killed in the Lockyer Valley on May 29, 2017, by paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.

Police followed him along Wallers Rd - a dirt road - where Maddison suddenly got out of his car and opened fire with an assault rifle.

Sen Const. Forte was killed and Maddison held specialist SERT officers at bay for 20 hours before they shot and killed him.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said he was at the pub with a relative in 2007 and was approached in the toilets by someone he knew was the subject of an investigation involving serious criminal allegations.

"The conversation centred around … I suppose that person's situation," he said.

"They wanted to know their options."

He said the man introduced him to his friend "Rick", who he said was "polite".

Another incident that same year, where he was woken by several people with bars and chains at his home at 3am, also had nothing to do with Maddison, the officer said.

He said someone knocked on his door but then claimed they had the wrong house.

"I took the chain off him," he said, adding his partner called Triple 0 and police arrived soon after.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said that Maddison came up again that year when a "human source" gave him information on a number of local people they said were involved in various criminal activities.

He said he filed an intel report on a "Rick Matterson" who he later worked out was Ricky Maddison.

"(The information was) Rick Matterson had a semiautomatic weapon … and that was the extent," he said.

 

The scene where Brett Forte was shot and killed by Ricky Maddison.
The scene where Brett Forte was shot and killed by Ricky Maddison.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said on the day of the shooting, he was in the room when Maddison called police from a pay phone to demand information on the police case against him.

At the time, police had been involved in an extensive search for the gunman, who they believed had been living rough in the bush.

Maddison had been evading an arrest warrant relating to serious domestic violence offences.

He said Sergeant Peter Jenkins, who spoke to Maddison that day, attempted to keep him on the phone to work out where he might be.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said he wrote things on post-it notes to steer the conversation in a certain way.

"I contacted SERT and said, listen we are talking to Maddison right now," he said.

The inquest heard SERT officers had previously come to Toowoomba to search various properties for Maddison.

Near the scene of a siege involving Ricky Maddison in the hours after he shot and killed Brett Forte. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Near the scene of a siege involving Ricky Maddison in the hours after he shot and killed Brett Forte. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

While the phone call was happening, Tactical Crime Squad officers had been sent out to search pay phones for him.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said after Maddison was spotted - and the pursuit began - he got in a car and started heading towards the pursuit.

"We weren't a pursuit vehicle, I was just travelling to the pursuit," he said.

He said he spoke to SERT and asked them if they could "pull some strings" to get PolAir to help.

Sen Sgt Stahlhut said he was told Maddison had opened fire on his officers and that one had been shot.

"We continued to drive on as fast as we could to provide whatever assistance we could," he said.

"I observed Brett … the paramedics were working on Brett. I was trying to get some situational awareness. I didn't fully understand where the incident had happened."

 

 

Originally published as Top cop denies blaming widow for Brett Forte's murder



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