Case: Magistrate dismisses serious assault charge.
Our client attended a friend’s house for a catch up. Another person was already there and had drunk over 10 cans of beer. The person claims that a minor argument led to our client punching him in the face, kneeling on his neck and attempting to hit him with a shovel. Our client denied this and claimed the injury was likely self-inflicted due to drunkenness after he pushed the complainant out of the way to leave after the complainant aggressively got in our client’s face and was poking at his chest. Our client was charged with serious assault offences and contested them at a hearing before a magistrate.
Charges/ Ch1 (recklessly cause injury), Ch2 (common assault)
Result/ Contested hearing: all charged dismissed, costs awarded against police
Our lawyer offered from the earliest opportunity for the police to withdraw the charges without costs, on the basis that the complainant lacked credibility. The kneeling on the neck story mimicked the George Floyd murder that was in the news at the time, and the complainant’s medical report stated that he could not recall being punched. The complainant also said another witness was present at the time of the assault, but that witness gave evidence that he did not witness any incident. Our client also had previously had leg surgery that made it painful and difficult to kneel in the way alleged. The prosecutor stubbornly refused to withdraw and decided to contest the matter. At the hearing the complainant made inconsistent statements that provided enough doubt for the Magistrate to acquit our client. This is an example of key strategy that BCL lawyers undertake to offer an early withdrawal of costs for highly contestable cases in order for police to avoid costs orders.