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Cop recalls graphic scene of being stabbed

A NSW policeman did not realise he had been stabbed until he saw the blood spilling on the floor and noticed his partner’s face.

“I remember Grant coming into the room, I remember seeing his face … like he had seen a ghost,” Senior Constable Jacob Vella told a Downing Centre District Court jury on Tuesday.

The constable at the time had been trying to handcuff Rory James Constantino just after 6.30am on June 11, 2019 inside his Sadleir home.

“I remember struggling a lot to get (the handcuffs) out. I physically couldn’t get them out,” he said.

“I didn’t know why at the time.”

Constantino, 30, has pleaded not guilty to wounding Sen Const Vella with the intent of preventing the arrest of his father Ricky Constantino.

He also denies a back-up charge of wounding a police officer recklessly causing actual bodily harm.

While Constantino admits the stabbing and wounding, the trial turns on whether he intended to prevent his father’s lawful apprehension and whether police were acting in execution of their duty.

The plain-clothes officer had attended the home along with his partner then-Constable Grant Koschel.

Const Koschel was speaking with the younger Constantino about his father’s arrest warrant through a cracked front door.

After surveilling the side and back of the house for any possible escape routes, Const Vella heard their conversation growing louder.

Sen Const Koschel previously told the court he had identified himself as police, but the younger man said he didn’t believe him.

Sen Const Vella recalled hearing his colleague saying they were in fact police and weren’t going anywhere without his father.

“I don’t care, youse aren’t f***ing coming in,” Sen Const Vella heard Constantino saying before he saw him slam the door on his partner’s leg that was inside the gap of the open door.

Satisfied his target was inside, Sen Const Vella then kicked the door twice as hard as he felt necessary to gain access, he said.

After someone attempted to hold the door up his second kick tore it from its hinges, before he saw a man running down the hallway.

Loudly and clearly he yelled “police”.

“When they ran that’s when I thought there is a very high chance this is the person we’re after,” he said.

At the end of the hallway Constantino turned into a bedroom and reached for an object behind his door, and did “a complete 180,” lunging at his face, he said.

What appeared to be a wooden stick object made contact around his neck and upper chest area, but he didn’t feel anything on the hand used to shield himself, he said.

His assailant lunged a second time while screaming loudly and Sen Const Vella said he punched and did whatever he could to successfully disarm him.

Curled in a ball Constantino yelled for him to “stop” and Sen Const Vella said he then tried to arrest the man when he noticed the blood.

“As I leaned over I could see blood trickling all over the floor,” he said.

It had saturated his police lanyard and his long-sleeved shirt, and he yelled out that he had been stabbed.

He remembers being assisted down the hallway past a man holding a baseball bat over his shoulder as if ready to hit someone.

“He saw me and it was as if he was shocked as well.”

Defence barrister Brett Eurell said his client had been terrified the policemen were actually “thugs” trying to hurt him and his family.

The trial continues.

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