Man attacks solicitor, bites custody officer in Ballarat courtroom

Ballarat's courtrooms.
Ballarat's courtrooms.

A man who lunged at a solicitor and bit a custody officer in a Ballarat courtroom following a “Mexican standoff” with police has been sentenced to jail.

Christopher Bennett, 36, appeared in the Ballarat Magistrates Court last Friday to face serious charges when he suddenly became aggressive and tried to attack his solicitor in front of shocked staff.

Custody officers quickly restrained Bennett but he resisted, biting one officer and attempting to spit on his face before being taken back into the cells.

Bennett had previously been apprehended when police saw him on Ballarat’s Doveton Street and realised there was a warrant for his arrest in relation to a burglary in Maryborough.

Police told Bennett he was under arrest before he pulled out a machete, prompting three officers to step back.

Prosecutors said Bennett refused to hand over the weapon for more than 30 seconds in what they described as a “Mexican standoff”.

Bennett eventually put the machete down but ripped his shirt off, challenging police to fight him before he was arrested.

Later, he urinated on the floor of Ballarat’s police cells and also assaulted an officer.

However, Bennett’s defence lawyer stressed in court on Tuesday his client had said police did not give him access to a toilet and also struck him in his testicles, causing bruising.

In handing down his judgment, Magistrate Gregory Robinson pointed to Bennett’s lengthy criminal history, saying he assaulted emergency workers who were going about their jobs to protect the public. 

Bennett was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison.

He will be eligible for parole in 13 months.