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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Afghanistan veteran Matthew Cristea jailed for threatening police during siege

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A judge has outlined why an army veteran who threatened police with his two young children nearby received a lower-than-usual non-parole period.

An army veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he served in Afghanistan threatened police officers with a knife, crossbow and imitation firearms during a terrifying siege in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Matthew Luke Cristea, 33, became aggressive when police arrived at his home at Reynella East to speak with him about alleged burnouts in August 2018. His two young children were inside at the time.

Tension mounted when Cristea brandished a large knife at officers and refused to put the weapon down before returning inside the house and emerging with a compound bow.

“Police drew their weapons and told you to put the weapon down,” Judge Jane Schammer said while sentencing Cristea in the District Court on Monday.

“You did not comply and continued to verbally threaten them.”

Cristea later threw a wooden pole and a baseball bat at police as well as pavers and a block of wood.

The siege ended when he pointed two imitation guns, and police drew their firearms and tasers.

Cristea threw his handgun, retreated and jumped the back fence before he was subdued and arrested by officers.

In a search of his home, police found knives, compound bows, arrows, bullets and imitation firearms as well as a hydroponic cannabis set-up and plants.

Judge Schammer said Cristea’s actions put the police officers and his children at risk.

“It is extremely fortunate that the situation did not escalate as it so easily could have, having regard to your alarmingly aggressive, agitated and erratic behaviour,” she said.

Cristea pleaded guilty to multiple offences, including two counts of aggravated threatening to cause harm, and he was sentenced to three years and one month behind bars.

Despite his extensive criminal history, he successfully argued he should receive a lower-than-usual non-parole period for reasons including his history of service in Afghanistan, resulting post-traumatic stress disorder and the lasting impact those factors have had on him.

His non-parole period was set at 20 months, while both sentences were reduced by nine months to account for the time Cristea had already spent in custody.

He will be eligible for parole in October next year.

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