ONE neighbour was getting her kids ready for school when she heard an axe smashing against her front door, forcing her to grab her children, flee through the back door and scream for help. Another neighbour, a 74-year-old man, who confronted Ben Leon Macaulay in his driveway and admonished him to put the axe down and "don't be f---ing stupid", was promptly struck in the shoulder with the blade, knocking him to the ground.
The 74-year-old man's son, who witnessed his dad being attacked, then grabbed his bow and arrow and began firing bolts at Macaulay as he ran towards him with the axe raised. Another neighbour, woken by the sound of banging, opened his front door to the sight of Macaulay in mid-swing and closed the door just in time as the axe head came smashing through the timber door.
Two other elderly neighbours heard the same thumping on their front door and hid in the back shed until the police sirens grew louder.
Even more neighbours, who were overseas or weren't home, returned to their houses to find their front doors smashed to pieces and nothing missing from inside.
It was a chaotic and unpredictable 16 minutes for the residents of Rosemary Row at Rathmines, a usually quiet stretch of road that snakes down toward Catalina Bay. And it could have ended with Macaulay being shot by police if not for the composure of the responding officers.
Macaulay - who was described by those who encountered him on that morning in May, 2018, as appearing to be in a trance - had smashed his way into the fifth and final home in Rosemary Row, despite the repeated calls from armed police to put the axe down.
Apparently unaware of the police presence, Macaulay smashed down the door and disappeared inside.
Police followed - one officer with his gun drawn and the other armed with a taser - and continued to call for Macaulay to drop the axe as he headed down a hallway.
And then Macaulay turned around and, still armed with the axe, began advancing on the police. But instead of discharging his pistol, the police officer in front backed away and his colleague discharged the taser, knocking Macaulay to the ground and ending the rampage.
The matter had dragged through the courts for two years as Macaulay was initially found unfit to stand trial. He was later reassessed and his condition was found to have improved, with a judge saying Macaulay now accepts he has schizophrenia. The matter was sent back to Newcastle Local Court and Macaulay pleaded guilty to a number of serious offences, including wounding person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
He will be sentenced in the district court in July.