River jumper 'thought he was superman'

A West Coast man who sparked a frantic search and rescue operation by diving into the swiftly flowing Grey River in a bid to evade arrest told police he had taken acid and thought he was Superman.

Andrew James Brooks, 34, of Cobden, recanted that statement in the Greymouth District Court yesterday, saying through lawyer Eymard Bradley that he had never taken drugs and was only a moderate drinker.

Brooks was remanded on bail for sentencing on March 4 on charges of assault and escaping from police in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Police prosecutor Steven Greer said Brooks and two women had misbehaved in the Railway Hotel and were being escorted out by the diminutive 50kg female bar manager, when Brooks struck the woman once in the face with an open palm.

Police were called to the incident and spoke to Brooks at the nearby railway station, but he then fled to the floodwall and was hiding among rocks by the water's edge when he was spied by police.

Warned to come up or a police dog would be sent down to get him, Brooks yelled: "Throw the f...g dog at me". He repeated that several times, along with the taunt, "Come and f...g get me, it's a nice night for a swim", before jumping in the river, floating on his back and kicking towards the opposite bank.

About 15m from the rocks on the other side Brooks' bravado deserted him as he started going under the water and yelling for help, eventually disappearing from view, resulting in the Coastguard and rescue helicopter sweeping the river looking for him for over 40 minutes.

After the search was unsuccessful, his family was told that he was missing in the river, but Brooks was later located hiding on Cobden Island.

Mr Greer said Brooks showed no remorse for the searchers or his family, who had been told that he had drowned, saying: "Oh well they'll get over it."

Mr Bradley said Brooks had no reason for his actions.

Ordering a probation report, Judge Gary MacAskill replied: "No reason? Well, let's see if we can find one then."

Greymouth Star