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Friday, July 1, 2022

NT man run down by stolen ute as violent social unrest spreads

Three men accused of running down another man with a stolen ute have faced court as violent social unrest in a remote Indigenous community spills onto Darwin’s streets.

The alleged incident on Saturday was part of a series of clashes between two feuding families involving traditional weapons, Northern Territory police say.

A social media video reportedly of the incident shows a white Toyota Landcruiser 4WD driving at speed through the car park of the Quality Hotel in the suburb of Jingili in the early hours of the morning.

A group is seen running from the ute before a man is hit by the vehicle, causing him to fall down and become pinned against a wall as it passes.

Jonathon Cumaiyi, 41, appeared in the Local Court in Darwin on Wednesday facing a slew of charges, including aggravated unlawful use of a motor vehicle, recklessly endangering life, going armed in public and aggravated assault.

Prosecutor Caitlin Searle says a complex investigation with many witnesses is underway into the alleged incident, along with another at a service station earlier in the night.

“We already have a significant mass of very clear CCTV footage,” she said.

“There’s a large number of witnesses that will mostly require interpreters and many of the witnesses are people that have been displaced from their homes in Wadeye as a result of the ongoing rioting.”

Cumaiyi did not apply for bail and was remanded to reappear in the same court on August 17.

Matthew Thardim, 23, and Donald Thardim, 18, appeared in the same court charged with aggravated unlawful use of a motor vehicle and stealing.

Matthew Thardim did not apply for bail and is scheduled to return to the same court on July 18.

Donald Thardim was granted bail and will return to court on the same day.

Earlier, police said a number of people were injured after the two family groups allegedly fought each other with sticks and an axe.

Historic tensions between Wadeye’s clans escalated in April when a man died after he was reportedly speared in the head.

Since then the fighting between armed groups of up to 300 people has left dozens injured and more than 500 people displaced after they fled.

Many fled into the bush or neighbouring communities and Darwin.

About a quarter of the homes in the community of about 3000 have been damaged or destroyed in the violence, many by fire.

Wadeye is one of the largest Aboriginal communities in the NT and home to 22 clans and seven language groups.

It’s also situated in one of the most disadvantaged regions in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.