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Man charged over massive police standoff

Man charged after tense police standoff, TAFE lockdown in Wollongbar, NSW. Picture: Andrew Trease/ Supplied
Man charged after tense police standoff, TAFE lockdown in Wollongbar, NSW. Picture: Andrew Trease/ Supplied

A man has been charged following an alleged hours-long standoff with police at a home in NSW’s north, prompting the closure of a major highway and forcing a nearby TAFE to go into lockdown.

A large contingent of police, including negotiators and Polair, rushed to a property on the Bruxner Hwy, near the town of Wollongbar at 8am on Thursday, following a concern for welfare.

After an alleged four-hour standoff, Paul William Chesworth, 45, was taken into custody at 2pm and then placed under police guard at Lismore Base Hospital for assessment. He was later transferred to Lismore Police Station.

Wollongbar TAFE locked down amid emergency operation.
A helicopter flies over head at the NSW TAFE campus in Wollongbar as police conduct an operation. Photo: Facebook
Wollongbar TAFE locked down amid emergency operation.
The Wollongbar TAFE has been locked down in response to the emergency situation. Picture: Supplied / Google Maps.

NSW Police said the man has been charged with using a carriage service to make a hoax threat, giving false information on a person/property in danger, and possessing a prohibited drug.

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He was also charged with contravening prohibition/restriction of an AVO from a separate alleged incident.

Mr Chesworth appeared at Ballina Local Court before Magistrate Karen Stafford on Friday morning where the matter was adjourned until November 27 at Byron Bay Local Court.

No application for bail was made, and his bail was refused.

During Thursday’s operation, police implemented an exclusion zone around the streets near the Bruxner Hwy and Lindendale Rd intersection, with residents and motorists told to stay indoors.

Students at TAFE NSW’s Wollongbar campus were put into lockdown for several hours. Picture: Andrew Trease/ Supplied
Students at TAFE NSW’s Wollongbar campus were put into lockdown for several hours. Picture: Andrew Trease/ Supplied

However authorities said there was “no ongoing risk to the public,” as the individual was “isolated at the property”.

Students at the nearby Wollongbar TAFE campus were also placed under lockdown.

A TAFE NSW spokesperson said the campus was locked down as a “precaution” due to a police incident in the area.

On Thursday, Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna thanked the public for their assistance with the exclusion zones.

“A man was taken into police custody safely, with no injuries to anyone, which was really pleasant to see,” he said.

“Thank you to the community for their understanding of the operation, I know it’s inconvenient at times with a shut down of locations, but we do that for everyone’s safety.”