Man sentenced over livestreamed armed standoff with police
A Grafton man who made a series of threats against police, including that he had a "hydrogen bomb" during an armed standoff that was livestreamed to social media has been jailed.
Joshua Evan Powell appeared in Grafton Local Court on Monday where he was convicted of using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.
According to court documents, at about 9.50am on Sunday, September 20 the 29-year-old was inside a shed that separated two homes on Turf St when he became highly agitated and armed himself with a large knife, yelling out threats that he was going to harm himself to family in the nearby property.
Family members immediately contacted triple-0, and shortly after officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District arrived and stood near the letterbox on the driveway adjacent to Turf St.
The police facts state that Powell walked towards police holding a large knife in his right hand, with police describing his state as "highly irrational".
The court documents reveal that Powell began challenging police to shoot him and he continually yelled comments such as "shoot me in the head".
As a result of the immediate threat to their lives police drew a variety of appointments including capsicum spray, TASER and firearms, and Powell was told to stop advancing on police.
The court heard that Powell remained a short distance away and continued to exhibit violent behaviour and threatening police.
Powell retreated to a backyard area, and police attempted to diffuse the situation. Powell continued to yell threats to the police that he would kill or harm any officer that came towards him.
Court documents state that specialist NSW Police Force officers were activated to have them attend the property and continue attempts to diffuse the situation, with the standoff continuing for around two hours.
During this time Powell's behaviour deteriorated and he became extremely irate, and continued to stream his behaviour on social media. The accused also made threats that he had an explosive device within the shed that he was going to detonate, and claimed to be in possession of a hydrogen bomb that he had made during the week.
Police performing surveillance on Powell also saw him douse himself and the area with petrol from a jerry can and threatened to set himself on fire, holding a cigarette lighter in his hands during this time.
Powell then also armed himself with a second smaller knife and put on a motorcycle helmet, calling himself a "warrior" and narrating his intentions on a Facebook livestream.
About 12.20pm Powell spoke to a relative on the phone and told him he was intending to surrender to police. Specialist police had arrived by this time and were in the process of devising containment plans when the accused declared his intention to surrender.
Surveillance police saw Powell drop the knives he had in his hand and walk from the shed area down the driveway where he was arrested without incident.
Police examined the property and found no explosive devices, but did locate two knives stabbed into the metal wall of the shed as well as a third knife in the grass of the backyard.
"The initial confrontation between the accused and the first four responding police was terrifying," the agreed police facts state.
"The level of violence he exhibited was disturbing. Despite this the police at the scene showed great restraint in containing and negotiating with him with the objective of peacefully resolving the situation.
"The likelihood of the four initial attending police using lethal force to protect themselves was significantly high."
Powell's solicitor Geraldine Gallagher told the court her client had a history of drug abuse, in particular an addiction to methylamphetamine, as well as a series of mental health issues including schizophrenia.
The court heard on Monday in the week leading up to the incident Powell's mental health had deteriorated and his drug use escalated, and that his partner had ended their relationship the day prior to the standoff.
Magistrate Kathy Crittenden sentenced Powell to 12 months behind bars, with a non-parole period of six months. The offender will be eligible for release on March 19, 2021.
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