The Courier-Mail

GUNMAN: FORTES OUT TO GET ME

Paranoid Maddison believed Brett and wife Susie ‘unfairly targeted’ him, inquest told

- KATE KYRIACOU THOMAS CHAMBERLIN

PARANOID gunman Ricky y Maddison believed Senior Constable Brett Forte and his wife Susie were out to get him, complainin­g to friends that he was being unfairly targeted by police.

Maddison would go on to shoot and kill Brett on May 29, 201, after luring police down a dirt track near Toowoomba where he opened fire on them with an SKS assault rifle.

The inquest into the deaths of the police officer and Maddison – who was later gunned down by specialist officers after a 20-hour siege – heard Maddison had been making threats towards police for 10 years.

The inquest was told the head of Toowoomba’s Tactical Crime Squad, Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut, had been subjected to threats from Maddison back in 2007.

The court heard that Maddison had threatened to ambush the officer and his colleagues “along a driveway and shoot them”.

Adam Byatt, a friend and neighbour of Maddison’s, told the inquest Maddison had complained about a “husband-and-wife team” he later came to believe were Brett and Susie Forte.

“He had expressed a lot of venom towards the police, and in particular – I didn’t realise at the time, but I later realised he had talked about a husband-and-wife team in tactical crime that he was particular­ly upset about.

Now I assume that to have been Brett and Susie Forte.”

The court previously heard Senior Constable Susie Forte had been involved in pursuing Maddison over domestic violence allegation­s.

Mr Byatt, who denied links to the Life and Death outlaw motorcycle gang, said Maddison had not spoken of specific plans to confront the Fortes.

“In drunken conversati­ons he would say things like ‘they follow me, maybe I should follow them’,” he told the inquest. “But you don’t pay too much attention to those sort of things normally.”

He said he contacted police after Brett was shot and he realised what Maddison had meant by the “husbandand-wife team”.

The court heard Senior Constable Andre Thaler from the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad’s “Tactical Action Team” had been involved in the search for Maddison in the days leading up to the shooting. But the inquest heard he had visited Wallers Rd – where Maddison had been staying and where automatic gunfire had been heard by locals – to go for a bushwalk while carrying his work “QLiTE” device, a small iPad that can access the police informatio­n system.

Sen-Constable Thaler told the court he went for the walk on May 18 – 11 days before the shooting – on a day off. Barrister David Funch suggested that Sen-Constable Thaler was on Wallers Rd looking for Maddison, a claim the officer denied.

“It’s the case that you were on Wallers Rd for the purpose of gathering intelligen­ce on the layout of a

property suspected of being related in any way to Ricky Maddison?” the barrister said.

The officer denied it.

“You say it’s just a coincidenc­e?”

Sen-Constable

Thaler said he also wasn’t aware at that time of reports from locals that someone had been firing an automatic weapon in the area. But he detailed an unsettling exchange he had with a man on Wallers Rd – a man he later realised was Adam Byatt.

Sen-Constable Thaler told the court he had some knowledge of the bikie gang through specialise­d work with the Tactical Action Team.

“We sort of looked at each other,” he said. “He was intently watching me.”

The court heard Mr Byatt approached Sen-Constable Thaler and told him to stay away from certain properties on Wallers Rd.

As the police officer was walking back to his car, he said Mr Byatt warned him to be careful and said “There’s hillbillie­s on these hills mate. I wouldn’t want to see anything happen to you, they’ve got guns – similar to that,” the officer told the court.

Mr Byatt was questioned about the apparent threat at the inquest, but denied he’d said anything about guns.

But he admitted photograph­ing the man and sending the photograph to his friend Maddison.

The inquest continues.

 ??  ?? Susie Forte, wife of Brett Forte (inset left); and (insets) Ricky Maddison and Adam Byatt.
Susie Forte, wife of Brett Forte (inset left); and (insets) Ricky Maddison and Adam Byatt.
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