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Police 'hung out to dry'

POLICE who shot and killed a man in South Melbourne are ''being hung out to dry'' after waiting for nearly 12 months to learn if they will be charged, according to Police Association secretary Greg Davies.

In November last year coroner Dr Jane Hendtlass sent the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if charges should be laid against members of the Special Operations Group who killed Wayne Joannou, 26, in a car in Bank Street on February 18, 2005.

Joannou was wanted over the murder of Brian Bottomley, a man he shot and allegedly dismembered with a power saw weeks earlier. Bottomley's remains have never been found.

Police attempted to arrest Joannou as he sat in a car with a Morwell couple around 7.15pm. He had earlier been seen armed in a Deer Park house and police allege the three had travelled to South Melbourne to buy drugs.

According to police evidence, four SOG members opened fire when the suspect pointed a pump action shotgun at them.

The SOG was authorised to make the arrest because the suspect was considered extremely dangerous, the inquest was told.


At the start of the inquest Dr Hendtlass said she would review whether it was Joannou's ''intention'' to put himself at risk or whether his death was a homicide.

The inquest was told Joannou said to a female friend that he would not give up and he would only stop if he was shot by police. Other associates said he travelled with a shotgun on his lap.

SOG members who gave evidence were not identified by name and were protected by large black screens when they entered the witness box.

''It would be nice if these things could be looked at quickly,'' Mr Davies said.

''These members have had to wait nearly a year for a decision on their futures, which is extremely unfair.

''What we do know is the SOG is only called out to make an arrest when the suspect is thought to be a risk to everyone. They aren't called out to the police picnic.

''The SOG regularly are placed in situations where they risk their lives. They deserve better than to be left hanging like this.''

A spokeswoman for the DPP, John Champion, SC, told The Age his office did not comment on files awaiting advice or on the advice itself.