Ex-cop walks free over traf­fic-stop killing

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - TESSA AKERMAN

A man who as a po­lice of­fi­cer fa­tally shot a mo­torist at a rou­tine traf­fic stop in Mel­bourne has been found not guilty of mur­der.

Tim­o­thy Howard Baker, 44, shot Vlado Micetic, 46, three times at point-blank range on Au­gust 25, 2013, in in­ner-city Wind­sor af­ter pulling Micetic over be­cause his car had stolen num­ber­plates.

Dur­ing the long-run­ning mur­der trial, pros­e­cu­tor An­drew Tin­ney SC told a Supreme Court jury that Micetic started to strug­gle when then Lead­ing Se­nior Con­sta­ble Baker at­tempted to hand­cuff him.

It was al­leged Mr Baker pushed Micetic out of sight of the po­lice car’s dash­cam be­fore shoot­ing him in the chest, but­tock and fin­ger and sub­se­quently plant­ing a flick knife at the scene.

The jury yes­ter­day ac­quit­ted Mr Baker af­ter less than five hours of de­lib­er­a­tion.

Ian Hill QC, act­ing for Mr Baker, had told the jury his client was not af­fected by al­co­hol or drugs and had no mo­tive to kill Micetic. “We know from ev­ery­thing we can see and hear that his in­ten­tion was only to ef­fect a law­ful ar­rest, for which pur­poses he called for as­sis­tance from other po­lice,” he said. He said Mr Baker’s be­hav­iour af­ter the shoot­ing was con­sis­tent with a per­son who had been through a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You hear it al­most im­me­di­ately, the vom­it­ing, and the nu­mer­ous po­lice of­fi­cers have all de­scribed him with lips trem­bling, hands shak­ing, pale, quiet,” he said.

“Is this the cold, cal­cu­lated per­son who’s just com­mit­ted the most in­cred­i­ble of mur­ders, where with no mo­tive, for no rea­son, and in some sec­onds be­fore it hap­pens, de­ter­mines to shoot a stranger, who he’s never met or knows any­thing about, to death and then plant a knife that he hap­pened to be car­ry­ing on him that no one’s ever seen him with or can con­nect him with?”

In his 2014 state­ment to po­lice, which was pre­sented in court, Mr Baker claimed he had acted in self-de­fence. “I thought I was about to be stabbed,” he wrote.

“I be­lieved I had no other al­ter­na­tive other than to shoot him,” his state­ment said.

In his clos­ing ad­dress, Mr Tin­ney em­pha­sised that all were equal be­fore the eyes of the law and urged the jury to dis­re­gard the dif­fer­ence in back­ground be­tween the ac­cused, a long-serv­ing po­lice of­fi­cer, and the de­ceased, who had a crim­i­nal back­ground dat­ing back to the 1980s.

Mr Hill said footage of Mr Baker through his shift did not show him with a switch-blade knife sim­i­lar to that found at the scene. The jury was told Micetic had five knives in his car on the night of his death and kept a sawnoff shot­gun at home.



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