Wearing a pink fluffy bathrobe, off-duty Queensland police officer Karyn Hart assumed she was safe behind her security screen when she came face-to-face with a knife-wielding neighbour.
However, Senior Constable Hart says what she saw next was something she had never encountered before in 15 years of police service.
Hart told an inquest in Brisbane Coroners Court on Monday that she did not know Damon Paul William Savage who lived across the road with his partner at Dakabin, north of Brisbane.
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In August 2020, Hart put on her robe getting ready for bed after midnight when her daughter told her a man was yelling outside.
Noises were coming from a duplex across the road and Hart ran over to it calling triple-0 after hearing a woman scream.
Hart said she stood outside and could hear a woman trying to calm down an angry man.
Karyn Hart said her neighbour’s ‘rage was like nothing I had ever seen at any job I had been to’. Credit: Jono Searle/AAP
“I could hear the desperation in her voice, that if she didn’t try and keep him calm … she was going to get hurt further,” she told the coroner.
Yet the disturbance continued to escalate.
“I thought the woman I was listening to was going to die while I was standing in her front yard not doing anything,” Hart said, fighting tears.
Minutes later the woman fled the house, with Hart noticing she had a leg gash.
The woman eventually agreed to follow the off-duty officer back to her place but collapsed and had to be helped inside by Hart and her daughter.
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Then Hart heard the neighbour’s front door open across the road.
She turned around and saw Savage was walking down his driveway toward them.
“I could see he had a knife in each hand,” Hart said.
“That’s when I said to my daughter ‘we need to get the f*** out of here’.”
Hart said she was able to close the security screen before standing face-to-face with Savage, yelling at each other.
Damon Savage was shot dead by police in Dakabin in August 2020. Credit: 7NEWS
“I assumed I was safe behind (the screen),” she said.
“His face was like nothing I had ever seen before. The rage was like nothing I had ever seen at any job I had been to.”
Savage began stabbing with both hands, piercing the screen five times.
“It was at that stage that I feared for myself. I recall a blade going past my face,” Hart said.
Still, she followed Savage when he moved out to the front yard before he threw both knives and tried to run at her. However, a leg wound meant he was limping badly.
He eventually returned to his house.
Hart was on the phone to police throughout the whole incident.
Asked how long it took for officers to arrive at Savage’s home, Hart said: “Forever”.
She stood on her driveway and witnessed what happened next.
Savage was shot eight times when he walked toward police with a knife minutes after officers arrived, counsel assisting Sarah Lane said.
The inquest before coroner Terry Ryan is examining the police response.
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