A man appearing in the Greymouth District Court yesterday caused a commotion when he ripped off his prison gown, bounded out of the dock stark naked and made a break for the exit.
Dylan James Ellis was arrested on Tuesday on a warrant for theft and various drugs charges, and allegedly eye gouged the arresting officer, who had to seek hospital treatment.
Ellis was brought into the courtroom yesterday yelling and screaming that he could not be sent back to jail. The rant continued in the dock, saying he needed help and then made accusations against the police.
As his tirade went on Ellis suddenly ripped off the prison gown and, naked, jumped over the top of the dock.
It took a police officer, prison guard, the Greymouth police prosecutor and a probation officer to restrain him, and he was then removed from the court.
The mental health crisis team was called to assess Ellis and before he reappeared, Judge Anthony Couch was informed that Ellis did not have any psychological or mental health issues.
Duty lawyer Vikki Walsh applied for bail but the judge said Ellis had behaved badly when he first appeared, granting a request from the prosecution to handcuff him when he was brought back before the court.
Back in the dock, Ellis was told he needed to try to stay calm.
Walsh said Ellis was not aware there had been a warrant out for his arrest after his failure to appear in the Westport court, as he was stuck in Timaru at the time and had contacted the court to ask for an adjournment.
"His case was not adjourned and a warrant issued, which was to lie in court until March 6, in case Ellis made a voluntary appearance," Walsh said.
However, when police discovered he was at a Cobden address and not the Greymouth address he had been bailed to, they went to apprehend him.
"When he saw the police arrive he put on someone else's pants and hid in a cupboard."
Judge Couch said the police opposed bail because Ellis was not welcome at the address given for bail.
The judge said it had been a difficult day for the defendant.
"He was very distressed when he first appeared and discarded the clothing he had been provided and attempted to run from the court and he had to be physically restrained. Later, when the defendant was sufficiently calmed down, he was brought back to court."
Judge Couch stressed that Ellis had not attempted to harm anyone - "he just wanted to escape from a situation which had made him profoundly distressed".
The judge said the situation was complex, with three sets of charges.
Ellis faces theft charges from December 22, threatening language charges from Westport earlier in December and new charges relating from his arrest on Tuesday.
Those charges include assaulting police, possession of cannabis seeds, possession of methamphetamine utensils, disorderly behaviour and assault with intent to injure.
Police said Ellis had eye-gouged one police officer, who needed hospital treatment.
"When he was subdued it is alleged he was in possession of a P pipe and 150 cannabis seeds, although the defendant says they were not his as he was wearing someone else's trousers."
Judge Couch said Ellis had a moderate criminal history, including being jailed in 2016 for unlawful possession of a firearm and escaping custody.
"His history also includes possession of an offensive weapon and there are numerous instances of threatening behaviour."
He said there was strong evidence Ellis would offend again while on bail.
"Bail will be declined and the defendant will be remanded in custody."
Ellis pleaded to the judge as he was being escorted from the court for bail, promising that he would not breach again.
The judge did grant leave for application to be made for an electronically monitored bail application, after remanding him until March 28.
- Greymouth Star