The Siege at Adjungbilly


tags: NSW Police, Siege,

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By Brett Pennell

From the March 2017 issue of the APJ.

Tumut - The Initial Arrest

It all began on 23 November, 2000, at Tumut, when two local police constables—Stan and Steve—were in a police car in the town’s main street when James Hallinan a 57-year-old man began to abuse them for no apparent reason. When the two police officers approached Hallinan to enquire what the problem was, he continued to abuse them and was subsequently arrested. Neither officer had dealt with Hallinan before and had no idea why he was so abusive towards them. At the Tumut Police Station Hallinan was charged with the usual street offences and also with two previous outstanding warrants issued for ‘Assault Police and Trespass’ from many years before. He was subsequently bailed to appear at court in December of 2000 to face these charges, however—not surprisingly—he failed to appear. As is standard practice, the court subsequently issued further arrest warrants for Hallinan to be brought before the court ASAP. It is worth noting that, due to Hallinan’s behaviour, one of the arresting police had placed a warning on the police COPS system regarding Hallinan’s seemingly unprovoked hatred towards police.

The Confrontation

Several weeks passed and about 8.45am on Friday 23 February 2001, two Tumut police constables, Stan—the original arresting officer—and Nigel headed off from the station for a 35-kilometre drive to a remote rural property at a place called Adjungbilly for the purpose of arresting James Hallinan on the outstanding warrants.

Adjungbilly is a rural area within the Snowy Mountain Ranges which has large tracks of pine tree plantations interspersed between natural bushland and vast paddocks. As they drove north along Red Hill Road, they identified the property they were looking for. It was on the western side of the road and would be described as having rolling hills with scattered stands of trees. On the eastern side of Red Hill Road, opposite the property, were acres and acres of pine tree plantations. Upon arrival at the property the police noticed a tin hut which could be clearly seen from the roadway. The hut was about four metres by three metres with a verandah on the southern side. From their initial observations, there didn’t appear to be either running water or electricity connected to the dwelling. On the southern side they saw a couple of old rusty vehicles and a caravan which was parked no more than five or so metres away. The hut was approximately 150 metres up a dirt track, which had a slight rise from the road with a small dry creek crossing about half-way along. The two country policemen did the customary thing, which was to leave the gate as they found it, so once they had passed through it Nigel got out of the police vehicle and closed the gate.

As they began to drive up the track Hallinan appeared on the porch and could be seen to be looking about. Stan believed that James Hallinan was possibly suffering from some form of mental illness due to the events that had led to his arrest in the preceding November, which made Stan feel uneasy as they approached the hut. At the same time, Hallinan didn’t seem to acknowledge the presence of the police vehicle as it proceeded toward him and seemed to be casually glancing around before moving in and around between the porch and caravan. Because of Hallinan’s behaviour, Stan decided to use the loud hailer to call out to Hallinan from the police vehicle as they slowly crept towards him,

“Jim, it’s the police, we need to have a yarn with you.”

The next thing, Hallinan suddenly appeared next to the caravan with a rifle in hand. He then leant against the caravan and took aim at the constables as their vehicle crossed through the dry creek bed which was a distance of approximately 75 metres away.

Stan instinctively put the vehicle in reverse in an attempt to reverse back towards the closed gate. At this point, Stan, believing he was about to be fired upon, opened the driver’s side door and, whilst still driving the vehicle backwards, leant down and out behind the open door in an attempt to shield his head and upper body from the exposed position of the windscreen. In this position, and with only his left hand on the wheel, Stan managed to get the vehicle back to the gate. Once there he directed Nigel to get out of the car and use the vehicle as cover in an attempt to open the gate so they could get the vehicle off the property. With the adrenalin pumping, Stan reversed the vehicle before Nigel had a chance to get the gate completely open, and hit the gate. He then drove forward, before waiting until Nigel opened the gate all the way to allow the vehicle through. After opening the gate, Nigel took cover behind the gate post and drew his Glock, covering Hallinan until the car was reversed through to the other side, where he jumped back inside. At this point, Stan moved the vehicle to a safe position some 200 metres south down the road. 

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