‘‘I TRUST you won’t write about any of this.’’ Those were the parting words of Holroyd Councillor Eddy Sarkis on Tuesday night as I left a function centre in McFarlane Street, Merrylands, after witnessing an altercation between two Holroyd councillors that led to at least one councillor falling down a flight of stairs.
I had gone to the centre with Councillor Gregg Ritchie to ask Cr Sarkis why he wasn't at Holroyd Council’s ordinary meeting last night; why he was at this restaurant instead.
When we arrived, Cr Ritchie told a male staff member he was running late to “the function” and we were pointed upstairs. We found the doors to a function room ajar and I stood back as Cr Ritchie entered the room, holding up his mobile phone to take photographs.
A physical scuffle involving councillors Sarkis and Ritchie ensued, as Cr Sarkis grabbed for the mobile while telling Cr Ritchie he was trespassing.
The double doors were also slammed shut preventing me from looking into the room to see who was inside.
Cr Ritchie was yelling “assault”, or something akin to “this is an assault”, at the same time as Cr Sarkis yelled that he was going to call the police and that he was making “a citizen’s arrest”. By this time a few other men had joined the scuffle.
I stepped out of their way as the fighting moved onto the stairwell which is when I heard a long moaning scream followed by a loud thud, which sounded to me like a person falling down the stairs. It was just as possible a few of the men had fallen.
There was a lot of yelling.
All of this happened before Cr Sarkis seemed to notice I was there. He asked who I was and I told him I worked for the local newspaper, the Holroyd Sun.
When he asked if I realised I was trespassing, I said I would leave but he asked me to wait in another room while he called the police. I remained where I was.
He also asked if I had recorded the incident. I hadn’t. I went downstairs with Cr Sarkis and we sat at a table together.
A man at the function suggested to Cr Sarkis that he call Merrylands police station - but he did not. I explained to him that I was there to find out why he was hosting this ‘‘function’’ during a council meeting and whether he was hosting “developers at $950 a head”.
He said it was “a family campaign meeting”.
During the stop and start conversation he asked for my business card, which I provided, and a mobile number ‘‘for when the police called me’’ about what had happened.
He asked if I heard him say it was a citizen’s arrest. I said yes.
Cr Sarkis mentioned his stomach hurt from “the assault” and he repeated his plan to report the assault to the police.
After what seemed like about 10 minutes spent talking with Cr Sarkis he suggested that I go home, so that he could return to his “campaign meeting” upstairs.