The Courier-Mail

The final frenzied minutes of panic

Harrowing call for help


THE clouds of dust obscured much of the potholed dirt track, clearing to give them glimpses of the silver 4WD being driven by paranoid gunman Ricky Maddison.

They weren’t going fast — the dashboard camera on the police car being driven by Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad Senior Constable Brett Forte bounced and jolted as the sedan attempted to negotiate the road’s rough surface.

Dust cloud, tail lights. Dust cloud, tail lights.

From the passenger seat, Senior Constable Cath Nielsen radioed through to the police communicat­ions centre asking for help from the police helicopter, Polair. “It doesn’t feel good … like we’re being led somewhere,” she’d said.

Then the dust cleared and the silver 4WD was stopped. Maddison, holding an SKS automatic rifle, was standing beside it. The muzzle flashed and bullets flew. Dozens of them. Forty-six rounds.

Senior Constable Forte threw the car into reverse and accelerate­d, accelerate­d until he hit an embankment and rolled. A bullet had hit him in the arm, another in the groin.

“Automatic gunfire. Automatic gunfire,” one of the pursuing officers said into the radio. “269 urgent. Automatic gunfire.”

And then, more frantic: “It’s an automatic rifle. We’re getting out of here.”

Senior Constable Forte, horrifical­ly injured, was trapped inside his police vehicle, which lay on its driver’s side. “269 need urgent assistance, there’s a police vehicle that’s rolled. He’s shooting automatic fire, full automatic,” his fellow police officer continued on the radio.

Another officer asked him their location. Wallers Road, he said. It’s really steep. He repeated the road.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” he said, frantic.

An approachin­g police vehicle radioed that they were nearby. They could hear Maddison firing. Maybe 200m away, they said.

“That vehicle is in a lot of trouble,” the officer on scene continued, referring to senior constables Forte and Nielsen. “He’s only 50m away. “We’ve just rolled as well. We’ve got two vehicles rolled. We got to try and get out of here.”

Senior Constable Nielsen, trapped in the car with her dying partner, pleaded for help.

“We need help here. We need help here,” she repeated.

“Give me an update please. We are sitting ducks.”

The harrowing footage was played on the first day of an inquest into the deaths of Senior Constable Forte and Maddison, the man who killed him.

What followed was a 20hour siege at a nearby property in which specialist officers made repeated attempts to convince Maddison to surrender. Hours before shooting Senior Constable Forte, he’d called police, vowing he would not spend another day in prison.

He wouldn’t. Instead, he ran firing at SERT officers. They shot back, killing him.

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