Unlawful Assault – Charges Dismissed

The client worked as a bouncer at a busy night club. Police attended after a confrontation with patrons who had been refused re-entry to the club. A female patron claimed that following an argument, the client had hit her forcefully with an open hand.

What is alleged to have occured?
The patron’s version was that a fight had broken out after the blow, when her boyfriend jumped in to defend her. The incident happened at 4.15am and the lead up to the incident, but not the fight, was captured on CCTV.

Our client was represented by another solicitor in the Magistrate’s Court. The client told him that he had not hit anyone on purpose and that after being hit in the face he moved backwards and flung his hands out in self-defence. The previous solicitor advised our client to plead guilty telling him everything would be alright and that it would be too expensive to fight the charges. The solicitor failed to check the prior convictions on the police brief with our client.

The Magistrate convicted the client and fined him a substantial sum. As a result, our client lost the ability to work in the security industry.

What happened at court?
The client then came to see us. After reviewing the brief, we advised him to file an appeal against conviction. The brief contained witness statements from other security guards that supported our client’s version that he was hit first. We also contacted the police and had them check their records. As a result, it emerged that our client incorrectly had a prior conviction for indecent assault recorded against his name. This was corrected.

We acted on the client’s behalf at the Melbourne County Court.

On the conviction appeal for the charge of Unlawful Assault, we cross examined the witnesses who had been patrons in the club. They had all been drinking since much earlier in the evening. Cross-examination revealed startling differences and many contradictions in their versions of events. It also emerged that the witnesses had spent a considerable amount of time discussing their version of events with each other raising the possibility of collusion or at least contamination of their evidence.

Cross-examination of the police informant revealed that while he had taken statements from the patrons within days of the event, he waited a month before interviewing our client and 4 – 5 months before taking statements from the witnesses who supported our client and had been sober on the night. Police had been asked to take photos of our clients injuries but did not. The informant had not made enquiries to obtain the notes of police officers who spoke to our client on the night.

Evidence was called from our client and he gave his version of events. Fortunately our client had taken a photograph of the injury to his nose the day following the incident. This was introduced into evidence and showed a deep cut across his nose, consistent with him being struck by the complainant with rings on her hand.

What was the result?
After hearing all of the evidence, the Judge dismissed the charges and ordered the police to pay our client’s costs.

DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 25/02/2013