Morisset siege: David William Clarke guilty of holding knife to 75-year-old woman's back

CCTV of the siege.

CCTV of the siege.

A MAN who held a knife to the back of a 75-year-old woman at Morisset Square shopping centre, triggering a tense siege that only ended when he was shot with a stun gun by police, has pleaded guilty to five offences. 

David William Clarke, 47, was agitated, paranoid and potentially suffering from a mental illness when he approached the elderly woman outside the shops on Yambo Street about 2.20pm on November 23 last year, telling her "come here" and then "don't move" before holding a knife to her back. 

The elderly woman told police she was too scared to try to get away.

She told police she tried to talk to the man with the knife, who said his name was David.

The victim began mouthing the words “help me” to other shoppers and tried to slowly move away, but Clarke tightened his grip on her and held the knife to her kidney area.

It wasn’t until a passing police officer saw the distressed 75-year-old woman and asked “do you know this man?” that the terrifying situation became clear.

The police officer repeatedly yelled for Clarke to put the knife down, however he replied “f--- off”. 

The officer drew her firearm, and for several minutes negotiated with him to release the elderly woman. 

Clarke eventually complied, but refused to drop the knife.

More police arrived and when Clarke wouldn’t drop the knife, they shot him with a Taser stun gun, but Clarke still maintained control of the weapon.

It wasn’t until he was shot again inside the shopping centre complex that the knife was able to be secured and Clarke was arrested. 

The elderly woman was “extremely shaken” and had to go to hospital due to paramedics’ concerns about her level of shock. 

Clarke was represented by solicitor Matthew Unwin on Wednesday when he pleaded guilty to armed with intent to commit an indictable offence, use offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention, affray, common assault and wielding a knife in a public place.

Mr Unwin was able to negotiate with the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions for the charges to remain in the local court, where Clarke will face lesser maximum penalties.

He will be sentenced in October, when Mr Unwin will make submissions that Clarke was labouring under a mental illness at the time the offence against the woman was committed.