Photographer is assaulted at Perth Christmas lights by a vigilante mob who think he’s a paedophile

A cameraman was assaulted, pinned to the ground and interrogated by cops after a mother wrongly accused him of being a paedophile as he filmed Christmas lights.

Darrell Brown, 55, had been hired by the City of Perth and another client to film the city’s annual Christmas light display. 

But the father-of-two, who has shot for the likes of 60 Minutes, Lonely Planet and the Discovery Channel, soon found himself at the mercy of a violent vigilante gang.

One man almost choked him by pressing down on his neck and even rubbed his face into the road. 

‘We seem to be living in a paranoid world,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Once those people decided I was guilty, they were no longer interested in the truth, so they weren’t looking for it.

‘None of those people asked me for my side of the story, no one wanted to see my business card. I had all the evidence on me, but once people make a decision about who you are, you can’t change it.

‘When people think they are right and have already decided you’re the enemy, it raises their level of righteousness and their ability to be violent against you.’ 


Photographer Darrell Brown (pictured) was subject to a disturbing assault while working at the Perth Christmas lights – despite wearing a high-vis vest saying ‘Media’

The Christmas lights in Perth (pictured) attract thousands of visitors every year, including local families as well as tourists

The Christmas lights in Perth (pictured) attract thousands of visitors every year, including local families as well as tourists

The terrifying mob formed after a woman saw him filming and lashed out, mistakenly thinking he was filming her children.

‘I explain to her I’m filming the Christmas lights for a client and wasn’t filming her kids,’ he explained.

‘She tells me she wants me to hand over the footage, I said that it wasn’t possible but promise her there’s no shots of her kids.’

Mr Brown explained the woman then called the police and shouted at him down the street, soon attracting a crowd of people. 

The photographer had even been wearing a high-vis vest with ‘Media’ written on the back – but the unknown woman decided it was a ‘fake vest’.

He has been working as a professional cinematographer and photographer for more than 30 years. 

‘People have a sense of entitlement with cameraman, they think they can push you around,’ he explained.

‘I’ve spent 30 years being patient, being polite with people – and then you get someone stalking you, telling people to “stop this man”, when all I’ve tried to do is tell them I’m working.’ 

Mr Brown also runs workshops for fathers and sons, and teaches about positive masculinity.

But none of that mattered to the mob, who didn’t give him a chance to explain his credentials. 

‘Next thing I know I’m face planted into the road in Murray street with three guys on top of me, trying to wrench the camera out of my hands,’ he went on. 

‘I tell them that I’m a professional cameramen filming for a client and ask everyone just to relax.

‘One guy is pressing down so hard on my neck I can hardly breathe, the woman is screaming to everyone that I’m a pervert filming everyone’s children.’

Recalling the frightening incident, he said: ‘The time I was worried was when I was on the ground, and the guy had me pinned. Straight away I thought this guy must be an off-duty cop or military, because he knew what I was doing.

‘I was trying to get a breath and tell him “I’m a professional, freelance cameraman” and I couldn’t breathe.’ 

He soon found his expensive camera ripped from his hands while the woman continued to scream, and was told he was under citizens arrest.

The ordeal went on for nearly 40 minutes, until the police finally arrived – who were also not convinced about his innocence thanks to the frenzied mob.

‘The police finally come and put me through the third degree,’ he explained.

‘As far as they are concerned I’m guilty until I prove my innocence.

The huge red and green Christmas tree (pictured) which sits in Perth CBD and attracts many excited visitors

The huge red and green Christmas tree (pictured) which sits in Perth CBD and attracts many excited visitors

Despite giving officers a list of the shots the client wanted him to film, he was told it had ‘no signature’, and they also weren’t convinced by a series of emails.  

After being questioned by police, officers insisted on watching CCTV footage of Mr Brown to see where he had filmed.

Eventually they allowed him to prove what had been on his camera, innocent footage of the city’s Christmas lights.

They also did a background check and confirmed Mr Brown had no criminal history. 

‘I have no grudge against the woman,’ Mr Brown said.

‘She’s protecting her kids, but I do feel that were all being trained to look for the worst in each other.

‘So its OK to face plant a guy, steal his camera and give him a few in the ribs for good measure? Because someone makes some unrealistic assumptions? The world’s going a little crazy.’

There is currently no law in Australia that stops you from filming in a public place without asking for permission. This extends to recording buildings, sites, and even people. 

Budding photographers should always look out for signs that prohibit film or video recording. 

While it may not be legally necessary for a film maker or photographer to seek permission from their subjects, those filming a child might ask permission from a parent or guardian to make them more comfortable.