Members of the community paid their respects at Windsor police station after hearing of the death of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson. Photo: Kylie Pitt
Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson’s mates walked from Central Local Court in a phalanx - an overt display of solidarity following the loss of one of their own.
They had come to see, or give evidence at, the committal hearing for the mother and son accused of the decorated officer’s murder. And after just five hours in the ageing court they got what they came for.
Fatally stabbed: Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson. Photo: Kylie Pitt
A year and five days after Inspector Anderson died at Fiona and Mitchell Barbieri’s semi-rural property on Sydney’s north-west fringe, the pair were committed on Wednesday to stand trial for his murder.
‘‘Having regard to all of the evidence that I have read and considered, I am of the opinion that there is a reasonable prospect that a jury, reasonably instructed, could convict the accused,’’ Magistrate Chris O’Brien told the court after an unusually short committal in which neither of the accused called any evidence.
Police say they attended the property at Scheyville Road on December 6, 2012, in response to an urgent call from a neighbour, Kevin Waters.
They allegedly found the Barbieris barricaded inside the brick bungalow and firing arrows at officers.
It is alleged that when Inspector Anderson went to the back entrance of the house to negotiate with the pair, he was attacked with a knife by Mr Barbieri, now aged 20, while his mother, 46, swung a block hammer at other officers who tried to intervene.
Despite the police force’s show of strength at the committal, it was clear that many of the officers who witnessed the incident are still highly traumatised.
Constable Hannah Watson, from Hawkesbury police, put her head in her hands as she told the court of the moment Inspector Anderson, her duty manager, was allegedly struck by Mr Barbieri as he stood on the back verandah of the bungalow.
Another of those on the verandah, Sergeant Adam Fitzgibbon, broke down when he was shown a picture of the large gas cylinder Mitchell Barbieri was allegedly holding when the officer knocked down the door.
The court heard Sergeant Fitzgibbon has been prescribed low doses of the sedative diazapam to help him deal with the trauma.
Another officer has been seeing a psychiatrist.
The alleged presence of the gas cylinder was one of a number of new details revealed during the committal about what happened in the last minutes before Inspector Anderson’s death.Constable Watson told the court that when Sergeant Fitzgibbon kicked in the back door, two ‘‘large dogs’’ came running out of the house.
Concerned that they might be attacked, a number of the officers warded the animals off with capsicum spray, the residue of which left a number of the police with burning throats and blurred vision.
‘‘You said in your statement that there was ‘a lot of spray around’, did that affect your capacity to observe?’’ Counsel for Mitchell Barbieri, Dina Yehia, SC, said.
‘‘Slightly,’’ Constable Watson said. ‘‘I could still see though.’’
Sergeant Fitzgibbon then allegedly saw ‘‘a gentleman hunched down over a gas cylinder manipulating the valve’’.
‘‘I heard Sergeant Fitzgibbon say ‘watch out he’s got gas’ and we backed away to the corners of the verandah, before moving back towards the door,’’ Constable Watson said.
The officer described seeing Mitchell Barbieri’s ‘‘arm lunge out through the door’’ and strike Inspector Anderson, with Mr Barbieri allegedly bursting through at the same time.
Constable Watson said that at first she thought the officer had been punched, but then she heard him say ‘‘put that down’’.
She and the other officers allegedly struggled with Mr Barbieri, wresting the knife from his grip before arresting him.
Mrs Barbieri allegedly emerged from the back door seconds after her son, having run from the front door where she was speaking to a police negotiator.
As officers worked desperately to save Inspector Anderson’s life, news that an officer was down spread to officers waiting at the command post at the front of the property, including Constable Ryan Mitchell.
‘‘I didn’t know who had been injured except that it was one of the police at the scene,’’ Constable Mitchell said.
‘‘There was a significant amount of blood on my colleagues when I was assisting by providing bandages.’’
When Ms Barbieri was brought to the front of the property, allegedly shouting obscenities, he was tasked with taking her to the prison van.
‘‘I’ll never forget what she said,’’ he said.‘‘When she said to me ‘It’s his own f---ing fault, he f---ing deserved it’’, well it upset me, I’ll never forget it.’’