AN OFF-DUTY police officer has described desperately trying to pull an "extremely aggressive" Benjamin Batterham off intruder Richard Slater and claims he told Mr Batterham "if you don't get off him and let him breathe he will die".
Peter Mahon, a retired Detective Chief Inspector, gave evidence during Mr Batterham's murder trial on Friday, telling the jury he was woken at 3.20am on March 26, 2016, by his neighbour's screams.
Mr Mahon said he immediately ran downstairs and across Cleary Street, Hamilton, to where Mr Batterham was lying on top of a prone Mr Slater.
Mr Slater had minutes earlier broken into Mr Batterham's home and stolen a bag from Mr Batterham's young daughter's bedroom before he was chased 330 metres around the streets of Hamilton and tackled.
Mr Mahon said Mr Batterham was punching Mr Slater in the head, holding Mr Slater around the neck and abusing him.
"His face was flat [against the ground] and his head was almost being screwed off," Mr Mahon said of Mr Slater. The former police officer said he told Mr Batterham: "If you don't get off him and let him breathe he will die". At that point, Mr Mahon said Mr Batterham began to get off Mr Slater, but Mr Slater bit Mr Batterham on the hand, enraging Mr Batterham, who began assaulting him again.
Mr Mahon said he used all his strength to try and get Mr Batterham to relinquish his grip but he wouldn't release Mr Slater.
During his cross-examination, Winston Terracini, SC, accused Mr Mahon of embellishing his role in trying to defuse the struggle.
"You're a fantasist aren't you," Mr Terracini said. "You want to make a big fella out of yourself. You didn't try to wrestle this man off Mr Slater." The trial continues.