PM listed as court witness

COURTS:

Lawyers for an Ipswich man who has pleaded not guilty to a number of weapons-related charges say they will be calling Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a key witness in the defence case they are preparing for their client.

Henry Browning, 42, of Springfield was remanded in custody in the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon after being arrested and charged by Queensland Police following a 30-minute shootout and stand-off outside the Bank of Queensland branch in the Queen Street Mall in the Brisbane CBD.

Mr Browning’s lawyer, Colin Hardly, said the Prime Minister would be a key witness in Mr Browning’s defence.

“We will be seeking Mr Morrison to give evidence to support our argument that when Mr Browning entered the Queen Street Mall heavily armed, he was simply following advice given to him by the federal government,” Mr Hardly said.

“My client had been exposed to the TV advertisements currently running and authorised by the Morrison Government that urge Australians to ‘arm yourself’.

“As such – and as security video footage from the mall shows (main picture) – Mr Browning was merely an innocent law-abiding Australian who had been exercising his right to visit the Queen Street Mall with the intention of opening a bank account and who was caught out by a totally innocent misunderstanding.”

Mr Hardly would not comment on allegations made by police that Mr Browning had been in the mall in the vicinity of a Bank of Queensland branch in company with another armed man who was heard to yell “Fuck! It’s the pigs” before fleeing the scene.

But Mr Hardly did comment on police claims that Mr Browning had been wearing a black balaclava at the time of his arrest.

“My client had bought that particular item in the belief it was a COVID-19 compliant mask and had intended to return it to the store where it was purchased after he had finished making inquiries at the Bank of Queensland,” he said.

Mr Browning is expected to return to court next month.