Wanaka cop attack accused unfit to stand trial

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A MAN who allegedly attacked a Wanaka police officer earlier this year was yesterday (Wednesday) found to be unfit to plead.

Peter John Barratt, 72, faces charges of assaulting senior constable Sean Hurley, resisting Hurley, threatening to kill the constable and his daughters and threatening to kill constable Peter Reed, all on April 10 at Wanaka.

Barratt is also charged with drink-driving with a breath-alcohol level of 751micrograms per litre of breath on Makarora-Lake Hawea Rd that same day, having been convicted of the offence twice before.

The legal limit is 400mcg.

Barratt, of Wanaka, has been in custody since April 12.

In Queenstown District Court yesterday, defence counsel Nic Soper said two reports had been prepared – one by a registered psychologist and the other by a consultant psychiatrist.

Both indicated Barratt suffered a “mental impairment”.

The recommendation was for him to undergo further assessment at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin, either in the psychogeriatric unit or in the secure facility.

However, no beds were available at present.

Judge Christina Cook said both reports had concluded Barratt suffered from “challenges which mean that he is not fit to stand trial”, a view she supported.

With no beds available at Wakari and doubts whether Southland Hospital would be suitable given its lack of a secure facility, the only option was to remand him in custody until a bed at Wakari became available.

“What really worries me today is that Mr Barratt has been in custody for a lengthy period of time, since April 12.”

Judge Cook remanded Barratt in custody until June 12, to reappear in the Invercargill District Court.

If a court date or a bed became available sooner, she will deal with the matter.

– Otago Daily Times