Cop ‘drew gun’ during bushfires

   Cop ‘drew gun’ during bushfires

28 April 2009

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Australia — A policeman has been accused of drawing his revolver on Black Saturday by a man trying to return to his bushfire-threatened home.

Donald Kenneth Carter, of Horsham, is suing Det-Sgt Steven Walker, of Horsham police, alleging he drew his service revolver during the crisis.

Det-Sgt Walker intends to defend the matter, which is listed to go before the County Court in Ballarat in June 9.

The Herald Sun believes Mr Carter is claiming he was trying to get to his property on Golf Course Rd on February 7 when he was stopped by Det-Sgt Walker and told to go back because of the extreme danger.

He has accused Det-Sgt Walker of drawing his weapon during the confrontation.

Another policeman allegedly intervened and Mr Carter was allegedly allowed through to try to save his home.

Mr Carter’s home was spared from the inferno, but the nearby Horsham Golf Club buildings were razed.

He says he used buckets and his pool water to douse flames after he lost power and his water supply.

“We copped the biggest brunt of it as it came out of the trees, it was roaring and I heard explosions at the golf club,” Mr Carter said later.

“Nobody in their wildest dreams would have imagined we’d see something like that here (but) we are very fortunate compared to the rest of Victoria. There has been no loss of life.”

Horsham and district was on extreme fire alert on Black Saturday amid searing heat and hot northerly wind.

A blaze started at 12.30pm and eventually destroyed eight houses, the golf club and swept through 5700ha of land.

The State of Victoria is also listed as a defendant in Mr Carter’s legal action.

His lawyer, Nick Lucas of Horsham-based Saines Lucas Solicitors, yesterday declined to comment on the matter.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Det-Sgt Walker’s legal representation would be met by the force.

Members can seek to have such costs to be covered if it can be argued their actions arose from acting in good faith in the course of their duty.

The Police Regulations Act authorises members to draw their firearms if “extreme danger is anticipated”.

Colleagues of Det-Sgt Walker are the subject of a separate County Court action for allowing a boy and his father to drive to their family farm 50km from Horsham.

Zeke Wilson, 12, and his father Malcolm died in January 2006 after being allowed past a road block to travel to Mr Wilson’s property at Ponomal.

An inquest was told Mr Wilson, blinded by thick smoke, drove off the road and crashed into a tree.

Fire then raced through, killing the pair.

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