Tele/ Central Sydney: Mitchell Aitken -Police officer avoids conviction in assault at The Rocks

A burly cop who unleashed two cheap gut punches on a man pinned to the ground has been sentenced. The incident has left the victim with ‘emotional scars’.

A buff city cop patrolling Sydney’s night-life in uniform appeared to be a man in control and ready to enforce the law.

However, constable Mitchell Anderson Aitken was far from in control when he unleashed two cheap punches to the guts of a middle-aged man pinned to the ground by a colleague during an early hours arrest gone wrong.

The 32-year-old police officer pleaded guilty to the common assault, with the victim describing the incident as an “attack” which had left “emotional scars”, the court heard.

The court heard evidence that in the hours before the fateful night shift at The Rocks in June 2019, Aitken had reached out for professional help through the NSW Police employee assistance line.

The married man was struggling under the grief of the recent passing of his mum and was overwhelmed by the extra responsibilities of caring for his elderly dad.

The court heard psychological help wasn’t immediately available as it was a Saturday, and Aitken began his rostered night shift for Sydney City Police Area Command when he encountered a 45-year-old man who had spent the night drinking and eating at The Rocks.

The agreed police facts state the man made a “smart comment” at a young woman being treated by paramedics, telling her to get off the drugs and that he’d call her mother. Council rangers asked him to leave which he did, before returning to the area to find his wife.

Constable Aitken, who had seen the earlier “smart comment”, entered the scene and “pushed” the victim away, court documents state. When the police officer pushed the victim once more a physical altercation took place, leading to the middle-aged victim being placed under arrest.

As a police officer held the victim on the ground, Aitken “stood up and punched (the man) twice in the stomach with a closed fist”, court documents state.

The court heard Aitken initially described his actions as self-defence, as the victim had hold of him, but accepted he had gone too far.

The crown prosecutor told the court a criminal conviction should be recorded as “police have special powers to use force and excessive use of those powers should be regarded as serious.” However, Magistrate Vivian Swain said she understood the dangers and stresses of front line policing and described Aitken’s punches as a “spur of the moment” decision and found a criminal conviction was not appropriate.

Aitken, who has continued his police employment at Redfern, was placed on a 12-month conditional release order.

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