Key Words: Assault occasioning actual bodily harm, Section 59(1) Crimes Act 1900 – common assault, Section 61 Crimes Act 1900 – arguable self-defence – child victim – plea negotiations – no conviction result – good behaviour bond, Section 10(1)(b) Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999
JXP was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he punched his 15-year-old son in the face during an argument at their family home. JXP was a lawyer. JXP had acted spontaneously and impulsively in hitting the child. The child had a brown belt in karate and had shaped up immediately before the incident. JXP instructed that he did not want his son to give evidence, that he could not risk having a criminal conviction and that he had possibly acted in self-defence.
After protracted negotiations with prosecuting authorities, it was agreed that JXP would enter a plea of guilty to a charge of common assault. Psychiatric material was tendered, both of the child victim and of JXP. The material documented that JXP was a loving and caring father, that he had never behaved in a similar fashion and he was unlikely to ever conduct himself in this way again. He had sought counselling and the child was seeing a behavioural therapist in relation to his behaviour at home.
The sentencing magistrate was of the view that JXP had acted in a manner aberrant to his usual behaviour, that he was an elderly gentleman with no prior convictions and that there was likely to be an argument of self-defence available to him that he forewent in order to spare his son from being cross-examined and to shorten the proceedings.
In those circumstances, the learned magistrate imposed no conviction and placed him on a good behaviour bond.