Debbie Guest; 3/8/09
The petrol an Aboriginal man was sniffing before being shot with a Taser and bursting into flames came from a service station that continues to sell sniffable fuel, despite repeated community requests. Police told The Australian that Ronald Mitchell, a 36-year-old petrol sniffer from Warburton, 1540km northeast of Perth, was sniffing fuel from the Laverton BP station before he threatened police with the fuel and was shot with a Taser. Sergeant Nick Hamer, who fired the Taser, said he was acting in self-defence. Aboriginal women in the central desert region said BP Laverton refused to sell non-sniffable Opal fuel because they wanted a bigger subsidy per litre from the federal government. Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council chairwoman Margaret Smith said petrol from Laverton was coming into Warburton and putting young people at risk of permanent health damage.