Labor MP Marion Scrymgour says police failed to respond to five calls about a serious domestic violence incident near the Darwin Airport Tavern bottle-shop the night before Declan Laverty was fatally stabbed at the same location.
Ms Scrymgour told Sky News Australia she believes the female victim – whose attacker was trying to pour petrol on her – would now be dead if she hadn’t personally called the police commissioner to insist his officers take urgent action.
“It was only about a month ago, I was staying at my daughter’s place before I flew back to Alice Springs and I witnessed a horrific assault on an Aboriginal woman at that very place where Declan Laverty was stabbed,” she said.
“At that service station (next door). Now I rang the police five times that night and they didn’t come.
“Unlike most people on the streets I have the number of the police commissioner.
“I rang him and said that I would upload that video to the Northern Territory News platform if the police didn’t respond.
“That woman would have been murdered that night if it hadn’t been for that intervention because the man was trying to pour petrol on her.
“He was also trying to smash the window and get the attendant who was terrified inside.
“It was a horrific assault and that was 24 hours before Declan Laverty was stabbed, terribly stabbed, at the same pub.”
Mr Laverty was killed while working at the Airport Tavern bottle shop on March 19.
There has been ongoing debate in the Northern Territory about whether there are enough police to deal with rising rates of serious crime.
Three days after Mr Laverty’s death, Deputy Commissioner Michael Murphy said the number of monthly calls received by police had risen from about 10,000 per month to 35,000 per month over the past 10 years.
He said police were responding to a high number of domestic violence cases.
Ms Scrymgour was speaking after a woman was stabbed to death outside a hotel on The Esplanade in Darwin’s CBD on Friday night.
When asked about Ms Scrymgour’s experience, Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said:
“This sort of behaviour is not acceptable.
“We have increased the police budget by $120 million – and have given police more tools and resources than ever before to help with the tough job they have, this includes more officers than ever before.“The attrition rate is closely monitored to inform recruitment and training planning to ensure recruitment meets and exceeds separation.
“We had 35 constables graduate in February, there’s currently another 71 in training that will graduate this year.”
Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker is on leave as he pursues legal action against the Government over its attempts to have him dismissed.
According to a report in the ABC, Mr Chalker’s lawyers have asked for more detail about a letter sent to the Commissioner in late March that made allegations against him.
The report said the letter made four allegations including one that Mr Chalker had “asked the Australian Defence Force to go into Alice Springs”.
“We now know that [allegation] was false … there’s an assertion … they might have meant to refer to the Australian Federal Police,” Mr Chalker’s lawyer, Arthur Moses SC was quoted as saying.
The Government has rejected calls from Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to send Australian Federal Police officers to assist in the NT.
Ms Scrymgour said the NT Government should have discussions with Canberra if its police force is under-resourced.
“If they’re overwhelmed- which it’s not hard to see why they’re overwhelmed- that discussion can happen with the Federal Government,” she said.
NT Police have been contacted for comment.