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Cop shot violent criminal after 'fighting for her life', inquest told


A police officer was “fighting for her life” when she shot dead a wanted armed robber who savagely attacked her at Ipswich Hospital, a coroner has been told.

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Violent criminal Tyson Jessen, 28, was wanted for armed robbery in Victoria when he was arrested on an extradition warrant in Queensland in November 2018, the hearing was told on Tuesday.

After a struggle and failed bid to escape during his arrest, Jessen complained of chest pains and was admitted to the Ipswich hospital under police guard.

Despite being warned by Victorian police that he was “high risk”, his handcuffs were removed by police guards believing he did not pose a serious threat because of his medical condition and he “seemed nice”.

“Mr Jessen was not handcuffed,” counsel assisting Melinda  Zerner told Brisbane Coroner’s Court.

Although still shackled to stop any effort to escape, Jessen was freed from his handcuffs to eat and use the bathroom.

“Police did not feel uneasy about the prisoner not being handcuffed as he’d been very polite and cooperative,” she said.

“They thought his demeanour was quite nice.”

Senior Constable Leesa Richardson and her partner took over guard duties around 6pm the night of the fatal shooting on November 10.

The officers claim they had not been told the full extent of Jessen’s violent history, only that he was wanted on a warrant by Victorian police.

As Sen Const Richardson allowed her partner to leave the hospital to get dinner and was waiting for a relief officer, Jessen struck.

He had eavesdropped and while the senior constable spoke with the relief officer who was en route and Jessen realised she was alone and vulnerable seized his chance.

“He grabbed Senior Constable Richardson by the shoulders and said: ‘You have to help me’,” Zerner said.

“He grabbed her around her shirt and pulled her until she fell to the ground.

“Mr Jessen leaned down to her and had both his hands on her gun and said, ”Give me your gun’.

“The next minute, he punched her twice in the face.”

The pair grappled for control of the weapon before Richardson reached for her Taser and baton.

“Mr Jessen smacked her in the head and said: ‘No you don’t’ and then punched her in the head again.

“Sen Const Richardson did not think to press the duress alarm on her radio as she was, in her words, fighting for her life.”

A nurse who heard frantic calls for help tried to intervene, only to be punched and pushed out of the way as Jessen tried to barricade himself in the hospital room.

“As Mr Jessen was trying to close the door, the senior constable drew her weapon, aimed, and fired.

“Mr Jessen dropped to the ground.”

Medial teams worked for almost an hour before Jessen was declared dead at 9.52pm.

His mother Kathleen who dialled into the court by video link wept as the court heard the details for her son’s final moments.

Coroner Terry Ryan will explore the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting, including the actions of police, at a full inquest to begin on September 6.

The inquest will hear from a dozen witnesses and is set down for three days.

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