A MAN who was shot in the chest by police as he hijacked a peak-hour Melbourne bus could soon be out on parole. David William Chuter, 22, was mentally ill when he boarded the bus with a knife and forced the bus driver out of his seat, punching him in the chest during evening peak hour in May last year.
When a police officer shot Chuter in the chest, he showed no signs of pain and instead appeared to lie on his back with his hands behind his head ``as if you were sunbaking'', Victorian County Court Judge Mark Dean said during his sentencing today.
Chuter was jailed for three years with a minimum 13 months, time he has already served in pre-sentence detention.He remains in custody but will now be eligible to apply for parole.
Judge Dean described Chuter's offending as extremely serious, but found it was caused by his paranoid schizophrenia. He said his moral culpability was reduced as a result of his psychotic state.Judge Dean noted Chuter's behaviour must have had a profound impact on the officers involved and commended them for their bravery.
"Your conduct involved an emergency of a high order, involving serious violence on your part, warranting the use of firearms by experienced police officers,'' he said.
"In my opinion, the response of the police officers concerned was proportionate to the danger that you posed to them and to the other members of the public.''
Chuter was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and discharged four days later without any permanent injury.
The court heard the incident has had a lasting psychological effect on the bus driver who Chuter forced out of his seat with a knife when they arrived at Essendon station.When the driver refused to move, Chuter punched him in the chest and he fell to the ground, before running from the bus.Chuter then got into the driver's seat and tried to drive the bus away but as witnesses phoned police, another bus parked to block him.
When two policemen arrived, they saw Chuter on the bus, armed with a knife, behaving irrationally and smiling.Chuter lunged out of the bus and threatened one officer before struggling with him on the ground.The second officer shot him as Chuter approached him with the knife.Chuter pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and two counts of assaulting police.
The court heard he is now on antipsychotic medication, which has stabilised his condition.
Judge Dean noted jail time could cause his condition to deteriorate and that his rehabilitation prospects are good if his treatment is regular and he is responsive.