Albany: Police attackers jailed for party punches

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
VideoA 20-year-old man will spend at least the next five months in jail for his “cowardly punch” which injured a police officer at an out-of-control party in Albany two years ago.

Two men who punched police officers to prevent their cousins from being arrested at a violent out-of-control birthday party in Albany could be released from jail in less than six months.

Sentencing Judge John Prior yesterday described the “uppercut” punch by Lincoln Colbung as “cowardly” when sentencing him to 16 months jail.

Colbung was this week found guilty by an Albany District Court jury for assaulting Detective Senior Constable Aaron Reichstein at the home on November 2, 2017.

After initially responding to a noise complaint in the day, five police had gone to the home to arrest Colbung’s cousin Corey Woods on suspicion of causing fear by carrying an axe in a nearby street.

But the officers were met by abusive partygoers and the situation became “very volatile”, the court heard.

Senior Constable Jeff Daniels had to duck to avoid a broom being swung at his head before being punched and wrestled to the ground by Phillip Clinton James Woods.

Woods, 27, was jailed for 10 months by Judge John Prior but could be released in six months – the mandatory minimum term for assaulting a public officer.

Colbung’s sentence could see him released in just over five months if granted parole after the sentence was backdated to reflect his 77 days in custody.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts described the incident as a ‘disgraceful’ attack on two officers trying to keep the community safe.

“There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour,” she said.

During the four day trial this week, Constable Ben Atherton told the jury he saw Colbung punch his colleague, Det. Reichstein from behind with his right fist, sparking an immediate response to arrest him.

Detective Reichstein suffered bleeding to his eyeball and lacerations above and below his eye which stopped him working for three days and he feared he could lose his vision permanently.

Const. Atherton said Det. Reichstein was pointing his taser at the scuffle on the floor involving Senior Constable Daniels when he saw Colbung punch him with his right fist in an uppercut motion.

The alleged assault was not captured on mobile phone footage which circulated on social media.

Defence lawyer Anthony Eyers said Colbung’s assault was not premeditated and while the punch was harmful, his client was “slightly less culpable” than Woods who punched Sen Const Daniels.

State prosecutor Peter Phillips rejected the claim, describing the punch as a “savage blow” and a “classic boxing uppercut” after Colbung had the opportunity to remove himself from the situation.

Judge Prior said both injured officers did not see the punches coming in the “difficult and volatile” situation when the officers were abused and then assaulted.

In sentencing Colbung, Judge Prior said the act was a “cowardly punch”.

“Your behaviour by assaulting Detective Reichstein made the situation for police clearly much worse,” he said.

“You punched him to the face when his attention was clearly elsewhere.”

Judge Prior said both assaults had not only physically but emotionally impacted both officers who were there lawfully performing their duty as a serving police officer.

WA Police Union president Harry Arnott said he was pleased the men would serve time in prison because of their “cowardly actions”.

“These disgusting assaults are yet another example highlighting the volatile and dangerous situations our men and women face every single day for the community of WA,” Mr Arnott said.

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