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Canberra hawker accused of running down ACT police officers is now under lock and key

Police and police cars at an accident scene.
The officers were hit by a green sedan during a traffic stop near the National Arboretum. (ABC News: Andrew Kennedy

ACT police say it is not yet clear what motivated a 30-year-old Canberra man to drive into three police officers, injuring all three and leaving one pinned under the car.

Key points:

  • Thomas Matthews, 30, is accused of running down three police officers with his Ford Laser while they were conducting a traffic stop on Sunday
  • He has been charged with seven offences, including attempted murder, culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm and driving a car at police
  • Police are investigating potential motivations for his attack, and have not ruled out that terrorism may have been a factor 

Thomas Matthews appeared briefly in the ACT Magistrates Court by video link where he was formally charged with seven offences, including attempted murder, culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm and driving a car at police.

He did not enter any pleas, but indicated in a clear voice that he understood each charge.

He did not apply for bail.

The officers were on the side of Forest Drive,near the National Arboretum, when they were struck by a green Ford sedan about 2:50pm on Sunday.

Police said one officer was thrown onto the bonnet of the car, striking the windscreen before landing on the ground, another was also thrown onto the bonnet before landing on the ground and a third officer was run over, becoming trapped under the vehicle.

Police and police cars on the side of the road.
One officer suffered a broken leg, another a back injury and the third officer is being treated for a shoulder injury.(ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

Deputy Chief Police Officer Michael Chew said confirmed that Mr Matthews was on bail at the time of the incident.

When asked if causing terror was a possible motivation, Commander Chew said several lines of inquiry were being pursued, and police had not ruled out terrorism.

“There is no link at this time but that will form part of the investigation going forward,” he said.

Commander Chew said two of the officers involved were new to the force and commended their efforts.

“They remained calm and acted appropriately during what would have been a terrifying situation. I have nothing but praise for the actions of all three officers, who were able to arrest the man despite their injuries,” he said.

He also thanked the efforts of members of the public who helped the police officers throughout the incident.

“I would also like to thank the driver of the Toyota Aurion who didn’t hesitate to assist our officers, along with two other members of the public, to move the vehicle that had trapped the officer,” Commander Chew said.

It is expected that all three officers will recover from their injuries, and will receive welfare support and assistance. 

Mr Matthews will face court again next month.

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