“I acted in self defence so I’m not guilty of assault.” Which case won?
Former students attend party
A recent case in Sydney revolved around the question of self defence.
In December 2019, two years after completing their HSC, about 40 former students from a leading high school on Sydney’s North Shore attended a gathering at the house of one of them.
In addition to plenty of drinks, some students had brought their “plus ones” along, and so, by about 8.30pm the party was in full swing.
During the evening, several groups naturally formed and there was a lot of cross-group interaction.
While almost everyone had been drinking alcohol, none were said to be obviously drunk and none had driven to the party.
Defendant has altercation with Mr A and Mr J during party
At about 11.00pm, a group of about nine people, including, a Mr A, Mr J and Mr W decided to go to McDonalds to eat, having consumed whatever food was on offer at the party.
As this group was leaving the house, they walked through the lounge room, where the defendant and a young woman, Ms H, were sitting together talking.
An altercation broke out between the defendant, Mr A and Mr J.
A few others from the departing group were also involved in the altercation, but only in a minor way.
Mr A, Mr J and the defendant were all injured in the altercation.
Ms H was not injured, as she was dragged out of the melee by Mr W.
The police were called, but by the time they arrived the participants in the altercation and the witnesses to it had left the party.
Mr A and Mr J make statements to police and defendant consults Legal Aid
The following day, Mr A and Mr J, accompanied by their mothers, attended the local police station and gave statements with their version of what happened.
Police resources were heavily depleted due to Covid duties at the Victorian border.
However, when officers became available a few months later, they followed up the statements by seeking out the defendant.
The defendant then consulted the Legal Aid website and spoke to someone at its advice line.
He was advised not to undertake an interview if requested by police, and he followed that legal advice.
Police charge defendant with assault and he pleads not guilty
Soon after, the defendant was charged with Affray.
This charge was later withdrawn and replaced with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm on Mr A and Common Assault on Mr J.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to these charges, claiming he acted in self defence.