Loss of friends on MH17 caused man arrested in Merimbula, to drink heavily, says counsel

Batemans Bay Local Court heard that a man facing seven serious charges on Monday was drinking heavily because of grief over the loss of friends on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Hamish Fyffe Finlay, 31, of Stanley Avenue, Mallacoota, did not enter a plea when he faced charges of refusing a breath-test, resisting an officer in the execution of duty, assaulting an officer in the execution of duty, having custody of a knife in a public place, intimidating a police officer in the execution of duty, driving with a high-range prescribed concentration of alcohol, and refusing produce his driver’s licence when requested.

The charges resulted from an incident in Merimbula on Sunday night. At the time, Mr Finlay had an outstanding warrant from a charge of driving while disqualified in June 2010.

Mr Finlay was taken into custody at Batemans Bay and had his case heard at Batemans Bay Local Court because Merimbula Police Station does not have holding cells.

Police facts state between 8.05pm and 9.30pm on Sunday night, Mr Finlay was stopped by police in Market Street, Merimbula. He refused a breath-test, refused to produce his driver’s licence, resisted a police officer and assaulted another, had a knife found in his possession and threatened another police officer.  Police used oleoresin capsicum spray to subdue the man. 

A breath analysis returned a reading of 0.207.

Magistrate Doug Dick refused bail on the grounds that Mr Finlay was a strong risk of not turning up to court again, citing his four-year old warrant as an example.

Mr Finlay’s defence counsel Emad Youakim said that his client had been drinking so heavily because he had “lost people special to him on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17”.

Mallacoota couple Mary and Gerry Menke perished when the airliner was shot down over Ukraine last week.

“He lost very dear friends and has been very emotional for the last three days,” Mr Youakim said.

He said that Mr Finlay was apologetic and remorseful.

“He realises that he does have a drug and alcohol problem and had been receiving help for his condition,” he said.

In refusing bail, Mr Dick said that Mr Finlay had shown a total disregard for the community.

His case was adjourned to next Monday.

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