Photograph of Gareth preparing to 'lock on' from EchoNetDaily
On 26 February 2013 an unnamed police officer used capsicum spray against a defenseless protester at coal seam gas exploration company Megasco Limited's Doubtful Creek test drilling site:
Excerpt from transcript:
TONY EASTLEY: New South Wales Police are investigating why an officer used capsicum spray on a protester who was chained to a truck.
The man was protesting against Metgasco's coal seam gas exploration site in the north of the state.
The Lock the Gate alliance which organised the protest says it will be lodging a complaint against the police.
A spokesman for the group says the use of spray on a passive protester amounts to assault.
David Mark reports.
DAVID MARK: A group of protesters have been attempting to disrupt test drilling by the company Metgasco at their coal-seam gas site near Kyogle since January.
On Tuesday one of the protesters, a 45 year old man named Gareth, locked himself to one of the company's trucks as it attempted to leave the site.
Scott Sledge, the president of the protest group the Northern Rivers Guardians, was close by.
SCOTT SLEDGE: They have a pipe which has a bend in it and both hands go into the pipe. And then it locks with clips onto a chain which is attached to the wrist so you can't actually pull that arm out of the metal sleeve.
DAVID MARK: Scott Sledge didn't see what happened next. He says he was on the other side of the truck. But he later spoke to Gareth.
SCOTT SLEDGE: He told me a policeman came under the truck and said, "Let go now and get out from under the truck or I'll spray you in the face." And he was holding a little canister, a spray canister. And he said, "I can't let go, I'm locked on".
And then he got sprayed in the face and it was burning. I heard him yell "I've been maced!" I yelled out then, "You can't do that, he's locked on, he's defenceless, that's torture."
DAVID MARK: New South Wales Police have released a statement confirming police did use capsicum spray on a 45 year old man while he was attached to a truck.
He was arrested but not charged......
DAVID MARK: Police guidelines say capsicum spray can only be used on three occasions: to protect human life; as a less lethal option for controlling people where violent resistance or confrontation occurs; or as protection against animals.....