Knifeman arrested before Queen's visit

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The Independent Online

Police arrested a man with an eight-inch kitchen knife strapped to his leg Monday as he tried to talk his way into a convention center where Queen Elizabeth II was due to have lunch, but they denied he was carrying a homemade bomb.

Detective Inspector Terence Dalton of the Sydney police earlier had earlier described a "small box with wires coming from it" carried by the man as a "crude" explosive device.

But in a press release, police said, "it was clearly not an explosive device."

Unemployed Sydney man Gregory Philip Pailthorpe, 39, appeared in Central Local Court late Monday charged with unlawfully possessing a knife in a public place and possession of cannabis.

Magistrate Kim Pogson ordered him to undergo a psychiatric assessment before reappearing in court Tuesday.

Pailthorpe's lawyer, Simon Bleasel, told the court Pailthorpe, who intended to plead guilty to the charges, did not intend to harm the Queen.

"His intention was protecting the Queen at all times, not harming her in any way," Bleasel said. He also told the court Pailthorpe suffers from a bad nervous disorder which requires medication. He did not elaborate.

"I think this person certainly would have presented a risk to the security protection team today," police spokesman Superintendent Donald Graham said earlier.

The man, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, told police he was from the elite Special Air Services as he tried to get through their security cordon. They arrested him because he "looked suspicious," Graham said.

The security alert occurred just before the queen was given a warm official welcome on the steps of Sydney's landmark Opera House, on the first full day of her 13th trip to Australia and the first since Australians voted last year to keep her as their head of state.

Dressed in a lime-green coat with matching skirt and hat, the queen was greeted by her representative, Gov.-general Sir William Deane and Prime Minister John Howard.

About 3,000 people crowded the Opera House steps and forecourt, braving heavy rain and sultry temperatures to cheer the queen, who smiled and waved in return.

Ignoring the security alert, the queen and Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh later attended a state lunch at the convention center with Howard, a monarchist whose low-key campaigning before November's republic referendum helped seal victory for the queen's supporters.

Commenting on the vote, the queen said in a speech to a room full of invited dignitaries that she accepted and respected the outcome.

"I shall continue faithfully to serve as Queen of Australia ... to the very best of my ability," she said.

In her speech, however, the queen appeared to acknowledge that her days as Australia's ruler may be numbered.

"Whatever the future may bring, my lasting respect and deep affection for Australia and Australians everywhere will - the closest she will get to the games as Howard, in a break with tradition, has not invited her to open the sporting spectacular on Sept. 15.