News: EPA officer punched during inspection

Source: Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide

by Elizabeth Henson 25 Jun 2020 General News - Page 13

A MAN punched an environment protection officer in the head during a heated confrontation at his family's Largs Bay demolition business.

The officer was one of three there investigating suspected illegal storage of asbestos.

Gavin Piller, 59, of St Peters, has pleaded guilty in the Environment, Resources and Development Court to two counts of assaulting an authorised officer, two of hindering an authorised officer and one of abusive language.

The charges stemmed from a violent altercation at GP and Sons Demolition on Jetty Rd on April 3, 2018.

A prosecutor said Mr Piller approached and swore at one of the officers, saying it was private property and "you can't take photographs". He then grabbed the officer's camera, injuring his wrist.

The situation escalated when the officer started filming Mr Piller on his phone. "Mr Piller grabbed (the officer) by the shirt-front, pushed him backwards and there was then a struggle; Mr Piller on top of (the officer), Mr Piller punching him to the side of his head, knocking off his sunglasses," the prosecutor said.

The officer suffers ongoing psychiatric injuries.

Mr Piller's lawyer said he was a "hardworking, community-minded family man" who had been working in Lobethal for months because GP and Sons Demolition had been contracted by the State Government to clear buildings destroyed in the Adelaide Hills bushfires.

"It's abundantly clear (in Mr Piller's letter of apology) that my client has insight into the offence in 2018 and is extremely remorseful and he is disappointed in himself because he had a good working relationship with the SA Government and at that time the EPA" he said.

The matter was adjourned until August for sentencing.