This was a case where a de-facto couple Mr X and Ms Y were walking on Roe Street in Northbridge late on a Saturday night. They had been celebrating Ms Y’s birthday at a restaurant earlier that evening. Both had been drinking alcohol but not to an extent to render them “drunk” in any way. Whilst walking they encountered a group of six young males described by both Mr X and Ms Y as dark skinned with an average age of 14-16 years. CCTV disclosed by the prosecution later confirmed these descriptions.
Upon seeing this group of boys the couple tried to avoid any physical encounter by trying crossing to the other side of Roe Street – the verge side running parallel to the train lines. The group also crossed and began demanding cigarettes. Neither Mr X or Ms Y smoked and so informed the males accordingly. The males then demanded money before one launched himself at Ms Y grabbing her left breast in the process. Another male took two steps towards Mr X and with a closed fist aimed a punch at Mr X’s face. Mr X side stepped the oncoming blow and struck the male to the left-side temple causing him to hit the ground. Mr X was the set upon by two other males including the one that grabbed Ms Y’s breast. Mr X managed to dispatch both with some ease. Whilst all this was going on a passerby called police who soon arrived at the scene. Police found three males unconscious on the ground and radioed for an ambulance. Mr X was arrested and charged with there counts of Common Assault under section 313 Criminal Code. https://www.slp.wa.gov.au/statutes/swans.nsf/%28DownloadFiles%29/Criminal+Code.pdf/%24file/Criminal+Code.pdf Tj the police did advise the couple that the charges would invariably be upgraded once medical reports were available.
Mr X and Ms Y chose us as their criminal lawyer to go over the charges against Mr X. Understandable they were both very concerned about Mr X’s fate. He was a mining engineer and Ms Y held a senior role in the financial sector. Both were adamant that Mr X was not guilty of the charges. After hearing their story we also were not convinced that Mr X was guilty of common assault and in fact had two very strong defences open to him namely self defence and defence of another under section 248 Criminal Code. At his first court appearance in the Central Law Courts in Perth, Mr X entered pleas of not guilty and the matter remanded to a Trial Allocation Date (TAD).
NEGOTIATIONS WITH POLICE
It was clear to the lawyers at Saupin legal that Mr X should plead not guilty to the charges and the matter proceed to trial. Before hand, it is always our practice to speak to police and prosecutors to see whether charges could or would be discontinued. Our approach to prosecutors in this case was pretty straightforward. Mr X was not known to police – in other words he did not have a criminal history. Nor did Ms Y for that matter. Mr X was a respected engineer having held senior positions in the engineering and mining industries. On the other hand all six males had extensive criminal histories from a very young age. – mosts for robbery and assault. Fundamentally of course the background of the accused persons and complainants are irrelevant to question as in this case , whether Mr X unlawfully assaulted the three teens. However, Mr X’s lack of criminal history and the six teens extensive criminal history would be made known to the court during Mr X’s forthcoming trial. We reminded prosecutors of these facts and that the facts in relation to the assaults and robberies of the six all appear to have occurred in Northbridge.
DISCONTINUATION OF ALL CHARGES
Prosecutors were initially sceptical about our approach – simple prosecution case Mr X knocks out three teens in Northbridge. This was certainly the account given by at least four teens in their statements to police. The two teens that were not in any way directly involved however, gave statements which corroborated the defence position. That is Mr X was defending himself and Ms Y at the time he struck the three males in succession knocking them out. We convinced the prosecutors that there were conceivably now four witnesses for the defence. Eventually prosecutors agreed and discontinued the charges against Mr X. The matter was early listed by prosecutions to discontinue the charges with legal costs awarded to Mr X.
It should be noted in this case that the turning point leading to negotiations was really the two teens that gave statements supporting Mr X. Whist we at criminal-law-perth were strangely committed to Mr Xs defences of self defence and defence of Ms Y the additional corroborating stammers were well received and even if they had not convinced prosecution to discontinue the evidence of those teens would have been thoroughly exposed during our cross examination of them.
Dr Marc Saupin Legal Practioner Director Barrister and Solicitor Criminal-Lawyer-Perth