Case Study: Recklessly Causing Injury and Unlawful Assault
Location: Geelong Magistrates Court
The client got into a verbal altercation with a salesman at a plaza, and it was alleged that the altercation ended when the client forcefully head-butted the salesman causing him to stumble backwards into a wall and sustaining a large bruise to his head. The salesman said he was “stunned” and unable to get up from the ground.
The client instructed that there was indeed an altercation, due to the salesman’s aggressive and intrusive behaviour towards him. The client also did not deny that there was physical contact and that this physical contact caused the injury on the victim; however the client instructed that the contact was completely unintentional and was the result of the two accidentally walking into each other.
These instructions were consistent with what the client told police. The complainant’s evidence was that the client had lost his temper and started swearing before deliberately head-butting him with quite a bit of force. There were a couple of witnesses to the incident but neither of them actually saw the “headbutt” and instead they simply attested to hearing a “thud” followed by the victim slumping to the ground against the wall and the client standing over the victim. The plaza CCTV was reviewed by police upon attendance, however the cameras did not manage to capture the incident, which appeared to have taken place in a blind spot.
Given that there was no CCTV footage, and the two police witnesses do not take the matter any further as neither of them managed to see the critical moment, this became a a word on word case. The police were very keen to run it, saying that there was a considerable height difference between the victim and the accused, rendering it almost impossible for their heads to make contact if they had simply walked into each other as stated by the accused. The client then qualified his instructions by saying that he was leaning in to get a better look at the salesman’s name tag.
By the time the matter reached contest mention, the police were still sceptical about the client’s account of what happened; however they offered to withdraw the injury charge and proceed only with an unlawful assault. This resolution was somewhat incongruous given that the whole time we were conceding that an injury took place but denying the assault. The other issue was that the client had three prior convictions for intentionally causing injury, all within the last three years; so the client was at risk of a prison sentence, notwithstanding the single charge of unlawful assault.
Consequently, we kept pushing for a full withdrawal. The prosecution then made enquiries with the complainant and discovered that he had already made plans to permanently move to another country, and would have been gone by even the earliest date the court could give us for a contested hearing. This meant that the prosecution would not be able to lead the only evidence they had to prove the charges, unless they were prepared to pay for a very expensive video link. Under these circumstances, the prosecution agreed to withdraw all charges.
This case highlights the importance of engaging competent criminal lawyers that know how to push forward regardless, even if the chances seem slim. At Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers we know that sometimes outcomes are achieved not solely based on common sense or the evidence but a dogged persistence that involves pushing the prosecution to their proof based on our instructions, in some cases, like this one, that persistence leads to a favourable outcome for our clients.