A judge has praised the courageous police officer who pulled a mentally ill ice addict with a knife off a 13-year-old boy she pinned to the ground in Sydney’s west last year.
Clara Moussa, 29, was sentenced to two years and two months jail for using an offensive weapon to intimidate and with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Downing Centre District Court Judge John Pickering was played mobile phone vision of the incident at a bus stop at Wentworthville in July 2017, which showed Moussa holding the boy down and saying “be quiet or I’ll slash your throat open”.
“I’ve been on ice since last Friday. I’ve had thoughts of killing someone for six months and today is the day,” Moussa was recorded saying.
Judge Pickering said several bystanders were pleading with the woman to drop the 20cm knife and let the boy go.
When police arrived, one officer slowly approached Moussa from behind, pulling her backwards and wrestling her to the ground.
His Honour noted it had been “a particularly terrifying incident for a young 13-year-old boy” but he also praised the police officer for his conduct.
“What [the video] also showed was great courage from the police officer involved in suppressing the behaviour of the offender at the time,” he said.
Judge Pickering added it was “not an uncommon situation” for someone suffering from a mental illness to be dealt with by police in “a more unfortunate way”.
“[Police] are to be commended for the courage they displayed on this day and the way they carefully dealt with this incident in a non-violent way,” Judge Pickering said.
‘An exceptional job’
Acting Superintendent Tamara Kirby from NSW Police said the officers at the scene that day deserved recognition.
“The officers involved did an exceptional job to de-escalate the situation with a minimum of force and nobody was injured,” she said.
“They will be recognised in due course once the matter is finalised.”
Superintendent Kirby would not comment on mental health training for police officers and whether it had improved in recent years following the death of mentally ill woman Courtney Topic in 2015.
Ms Topic was shot dead by police after she waved around a knife outside a fast food restaurant at West Hoxton in Sydney’s west.
A coroner found her death was preventable and urged NSW Police to improve mental health training.
The court was told Moussa had experienced mental health issues, including schizophrenia and hallucinations, for over a decade before the bus stop incident and had been using ice for about four years.
The judge accepted Moussa did not know what she was doing when she acted out that day and had since taken responsibility and shown remorse by pleading guilty.
Three members of Moussa’s family were in court and told the ABC they were pleased the judge had taken all the evidence into account.
“We thought the sentence handed down was fair and aligned with Clara getting the help she needs,” a relative said.
With time already served, Moussa will be released on parole next Thursday and will continue to seek psychiatric help.