The officer said he came close to losing part of his sight in the attack. (Supplied: Police Association of Victoria)
A police officer kicked in the face by a Melbourne teenager in a “violent and cowardly assault” has told a court how he hated being a “poster boy” in the political war over African youth crime.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, avoided conviction and further time in detention after he admitted to attacking the officer at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s west on Boxing Day last year.
A Children’s Court magistrate sentenced the teenager in January to a nine-month probation order after factoring in the 30 days he had already spent in youth detention.
A County Court judge is hearing an appeal by the prosecution against the teenager’s sentence for intentionally causing injury.
The officer, who the ABC has chosen not to identify at the request of the police union, told the appeal he could have lost his sight after the blow came “literally half a centimetre” from his eye.
The Senior Constable was kneeling down to arrest another teenager for shoplifting when he was attacked “in a manner akin to a soccer kick” the appeal heard.
Officer resents being drawn into political debate
The officer told the hearing he felt let down by the justice system.
“I felt empty, there was no justice for me, he was going to get away with it,” he said.
“The incident could have ruined my life.”
The teenager is of African appearance and the officer said he resented being drawn into the political debate about African youth crime.
“I hated being the face of Victoria Police or a ‘poster boy’ for this war against the ongoing issues of African youth crime,” he said.
The officer’s wife, who is also a police officer, told the hearing her “body was in shut down” after hearing the attack play out on police radio.
“I just couldn’t help but fear the worst,” she said.
“I thought our lives had altered forever.”
The officer was kneeling to arrest another teenager for shoplifting when he was attacked. (ABC News)
She said her husband came very close to losing part of his sight and his policing career.
“My worst fears were literally half a centimetre from becoming a reality.
“Had the kick been half a centimetre closer to Michael’s eyeball he would have lost part of his vision, making him unable to perform as a police officer.”
She said the attack thrust her husband into the middle of a political debate.
“We had felt let down and used by a majority of parties as they paraded on TV setting their own political agenda,” she said.
‘Rehabilitation is the main consideration’ in Children’s Court
The prosecutor leading the appeal told the hearing that the teenager should have received a custodial sentence for what he described as a “violent and cowardly assault”.
But he said the police prosecutor handling the case in the Children’s Court stayed quiet on what penalty they believed matched the crime.
“The prosecutor did not make any submission in terms of penalty,” the prosecutor said.
He said it was common practice in the lower courts for prosecutors to leave sentences up to magistrates.
But the teenager’s lawyer said the idea that prosecutors did not make sentencing submissions in the Children’s Court was “simply not true”.
“It does happen from time to time,” the teenager’s lawyer said.
He said the magistrate clearly foreshadowed what her sentence was going to be but still “nothing was said” by the prosecutor.
The teenager’s lawyer told the hearing the Children’s Court takes “a whole different approach” to the adult courts.
“Rehabilitation is the main consideration,” he said.
The case will return to court next month.