ON TRIAL: Police officer constable Thien Nhat Pham has been accused of perverting justice, common assault and administering a noxious thing with intent to annoy.
ON TRIAL: Police officer constable Thien Nhat Pham has been accused of perverting justice, common assault and administering a noxious thing with intent to annoy. Inga Williams

Trial questions police officer's use of capsicum spray

AN IPSWICH policeman squirted capsicum spray at a man, jumped on his back and held him in a choke hold, Ipswich District Court has heard.

The 31-year-old constable's colleagues had urged the policeman to let the man go, Crown prosecutor Jodie Wooldridge told the court.

The policeman, Constable Thien Nhat Pham pleaded not guilty this week to charges of perverting justice, administering a noxious thing with intent to annoy and common assault.

Ms Wooldridge said the policeman and two other officers had been investigating a suspected break-in early on May 5, 2012, after an alarm was activated at a dance hall in Waghorn St.

During that time, two men - both of Aboriginal decent - had been walking home after a night out drinking.

When the men stopped to have a look at what the police were doing, Ms Wooldridge said Pham approached them and "got right up in their face".

Ms Wooldridge said Pham continued to act aggressively towards the men as he inquired what they were doing in the area.

When the men were eventually given permission to leave, one of them said something to the effect of "you put on a blue shirt and you think you can do anything."

At that point, Pham allegedly walked back to the men and sprayed oleoresin capsicum - better known as pepper spray - at one of the men, Travis Douglas.

He then allegedly jumped on Mr Douglas' back and put him in a "choke hold".

She said the victim fell on his back and struggled to breathe while the officer continued to hold him around the neck.

After Mr Douglas had been handcuffed, Pham was allegedly told by one of his colleagues to "let the man go" numerous times before he did.

Ms Wooldridge said at this stage there had been no indication the victim was under arrest.

Mr Douglas was later taken to the Ipswich watchhouse and charged with creating a public nuisance and obstructing police.

Ms Wooldridge said Pham then allegedly filed a series of police reports about the incident that contained false information.

The trial, which is expected to last five days, continues.


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