Justice Charles Quin was perfectly justified in sentencing Garfield Silburn Jr. to 10 years imprisonment in September 2017 for assaulting a police officer, the Court of Appeal determined in a judgment released earlier this month.
The appeal stemmed from an incident in May 2017 in Prospect, where officers responded to a report of a possible burglary. They located a car that had been described in connection with the incident and Mr. Silburn was nearby, washing himself with a garden hose.
Told he was under arrest, Mr. Silburn punched a male officer in the face several times. When the female officer present attempted to intervene, he kicked her in the stomach. Mr. Silburn then stomped on the male officer’s chest and began kicking him in the head.
The officer on the ground caught hold of Mr. Silburn’s foot and the defendant also fell. Instead of stopping, Mr. Silburn began to choke the male officer until he started to lose consciousness. The female officer hit the defendant with her handheld radio.
When help arrived, the officers were taken to hospital. The woman officer suffered pain in her stomach and left hand, which was swollen.
The male officer complained of blurred vision. Having been treated previously for a detached retina, he was sent overseas and underwent two operations. The appeals court judgment noted that the two operations had failed to reattach the retina.
“At the time of sentencing, a third was contemplated,” the appeals court stated. “There is no further up-to-date evidence.”
During the sentencing in September, Justice Quin said Mr. Silburn’s offenses warranted a 12-year starting point for the assault on the male officer. Mr. Silburn also received a two-year sentence for assaulting the female officer, with that punishment to run concurrently.
Justice Quin said the starting point warranted an upward adjustment because it was an assault on an officer who was only carrying out his duty. The incident may have started out as an attempt to resist arrest but Mr. Silburn ended up almost killing the officer, the judge indicated.
The defendant had several previous convictions for violence, including robbery. The judge found that the appropriate sentence for a violent assault on a police officer in the execution of his duty was 15 years. With one-third off for the guilty plea, the sentence was 10 years.
At the October appeal hearing, Mr. Silburn’s attorney, John Furniss, was “critical of the observations regarding the possibility of the officer being killed,” the Court of Appeal judgment stated.
“While not seeking to minimize the seriousness of what happened, Mr. Furniss submits the judge was wrong to place the offending within category 1, although he did accept in the course of argument that it was open to him to do so,” the judgment states.
The appeals court did not agree with Mr. Furniss, saying that the 10-year sentence was appropriate given the aggravating factors of the offense.
“Had the other officer not intervened, one dreads to think what the consequences might have been,” the appeals judgment states.