Punches that broke annoying drunk's jaw 'lawful'
IT TOOK less than an hour for a Toowoomba District Court jury to acquit a man of causing grievous bodily harm to a work colleague he had punched at a Christmas party.
Clarrie Howard Tane, 38, had been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to then workmate Angus Rogie at a work Christmas party at the Royal Hotel in Toowoomba on the evening of December 18, 2012.
Tane had twice punched Rogie who fell to the floor of the pub's smoking area and sustained a fractured jaw in the incident.
Though the Crown could not say which punch had caused the injury which could also have been sustained when Rogie fell on a stool before landing on the floor, Tane was accused of causing the injury.
He pleaded not guilty.
It was accepted during the trial that Rogie's injury had amounted to grievous bodily harm in law.
However, the question for the jury was had Tane's actions in striking Rogie been unlawful.
By the evidence from a number of witnesses at trial, Rogie had been drunk and annoying throughout the night.
He had taunted Tane, a larger man, to fight him and before the incident he had past a racial comment to Tane, the court heard.
One witness, another work colleague who had been at the hotel that night, told the court in his view the complainant had deserved to be struck due to his behaviour.
Tane's barrister Frank Martin argued Rogie had been a pest all night and most guests had tried to ignore him including his client.
On the CCTV footage of the incident Tane had initially turned his back on the taunting complainant.
"But, there comes a time when you do go over the threshold," he submitted.
After punching Rogie, his client had gone to pick him up from the floor but Rogie had thrown punches at him, prompting a second punch, he said.
Mr Martin submitted everyone had the right to defend themselves when threatened with assault and, in certain circumstances, to deliver a pre-emptive strike.
The jury retired to consider a verdict at 3.17pm yesterday before asking for a laptop computer to view CCTV footage of the incident.
Having been given the appropriate equipment, the jury returned at 4pm with a verdict of not guilty.