Day one inquiry into Brett Forte murder at Toowoomba Courthouse. Brett's wife, Susie Forte, leaves the courthouse with her legal team
Day one inquiry into Brett Forte murder at Toowoomba Courthouse. Brett's wife, Susie Forte, leaves the courthouse with her legal team

Maddison sprayed police with bullets before 20 hr siege: Inquest

Gunman Ricky Maddison sprayed up to 40 rounds from an SKS automatic weapon at pursuing police on a dirt road off the Warrego Highway near Helidon which left Toowoomba Policeman Senior Constable Brett Forte dead.

Snr Const. Forte had been in one of two police cars which had pursued Maddison on the afternoon of May 29, 2017, from Toowoomba to the Lockyer Valley.

A Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths Snr Const. Forte and Maddison heard a minimum of 27 projectiles had been fired at the police vehicle, some six into the cabin.

Dashcam footage of the pursuit played to the court showed Maddison suddenly stopping his vehicle at a gate on the dirt road about 2.18pm, getting out and firing automatic gunfire at police vehicles.

One of the officers is heard to yell “He’s shooting automatic fire at us.

“We’re getting out of here.”

The police car reversed and rolled onto the driver’s side as Maddison continued to fire.

Senior Constable Forte’s partner that day Senior Constable Catherine Neilsen is heard radioing for help, saying: “We need help, we are sitting ducks”.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Rhiannon Helsen said Snr Const. Forte was struck in the right arm and after the car rolled another bullet which came through the footwall struck him in the groin region.

He was removed from the police car at 2.38pm by fellow officers before being driven in the back seat of another police vehicle.

Snr Const. Forte was taken out of the vehicle when officers attempted CPR but he was pronounced deceased at 3.29pm.

Maddison was shot and killed by special response police officers after what became a 20-hour siege at the property.

Coroner Terry Ryan is looking into the circumstances leading up to the incidents, the interaction between Maddison and police, and police procedures that day.

Police had been looking for Madison for some weeks in relationship to a domestic violence incident and he had called Toowoomba police from a payphone on Lindsay St earlier that day.

During the half-hour conversation with Sergeant Peter Jenkins, which was played to the court, Maddison is repeatedly asked to come into the police station for an interview but he refused.

“You want me to come in so you can lock me up,” Maddison is heard to say.

Detective Senior Sergeant Fiona Hinschelwood who investigated the incident on behalf of the Queensland Police Service Ethics Command, found the decision by Toowoomba police communications Sergeant Ian Douglas to continue the pursuit to have been a sound one.

Snr Const. Nielsen had on a number of occasions asked for Polair helicopter assistance during the pursuit and Polair had been contacted.

However, Snr Sgt Hinschelwood said had Polair been deployed at that time it would not have reached the shooting site before Brett Forte was shot.

She said police knew Maddison had links to automatic weapons going back to 2007 and that in the weeks and months leading up to the shooting there had been reports to police about automatic gunfire in the area where Snr Const. Forte was killed.

There was no evidence that Brett Forte had been aware of reports of the automatic gunfire in that area or that the police communications knew of it but Maddison had been flagged for weapons.

She said Maddison had a “heightened awareness” of police and she believed he was of the belief that police knew where he was but police actually didn’t know where he was staying.

Police knew Maddison was considered “high risk”, she said.

She said it was also sound advice from Sgt Douglas that Maddison was not to be “blocked in” during the pursuit and she considered the response of officers in keeping with police policy.

She did not think police issued bullet proof vests would have withstood the high powered gunfire of Maddison’s SKS or, given where Snr Const. Forte was struck, whether it could have saved him.

The inquest has been set down for two weeks and is expected to hear from 30 witnesses.

Originally published as Maddison sprayed police with bullets before 20 hr siege: Inquest



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