A former AFL player is behind bars after being charged over his alleged involvement in a brutal attack. Brennan Stack, former Western Bulldogs player turned coach and mentor is accused of punching, kicking and stomping on two women in a Perth carpark as the victims feared for their lives.
Brennan Stack and Shai Anthony Martin both faced Northbridge Magistrates Court on 22 March 2022 accused of savagely beating the victims, where they were left with serious face and head injuries. The horrific assault was seen by a witness and caught on CCTV.
This attack happened after an argument broke out when their car doors slammed into each other. Neither party knew each other prior to the incident. The court was told that Brennan Stack punched one of the women in the head until she collapsed. The other accused proceeded to join in, dragging the victim by her hair five meter before repeatedly punching and kicking her head and back. The assault was described by a senior police officer as the most ‘ferocious’ and ‘vicious’ which he had experienced in more than two decades in the job. Both women were taken to Royal Perth Hospital for treatment and released shortly after, whilst both men were arrested and charged with intentionally causing bodily harm.
Brennan Stack’s bail application was adjourned until 30 March.
THE LAW IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
An assault occasioning bodily harm is an offence where the person has suffered any kind of bodily injury which interferes with their health or comfort. These injuries may include minor abrasions and bruises, or injuries that are still relatively minor but require medical attention.
This offence is dealt with either in the Magistrates Court or the District Court. If the matter is heard in the District Court, the offence carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment, however may increase to 7 years imprisonment if the offences occurs in circumstances of aggravation. For cases heard in the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $24,000, or, if the offence occurred in circumstances of aggravation, 3 years imprisonment and a fine of $36,000.
POSSIBLE DEFENCES TO ASSAULT CHARGES IN WA
When faced with such charges in Western Australia, a defence such as provocation or self defence may be available. The accused may plead provocation in circumstances where they were provoked into committing the assault as a form of provocation which resulted in a loss of self-control. This is provided that the alleged assault is not disproportionate to the provocation and is not likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm.
It is however important to understand that this is an overview of defences that will not be available for all types of assault charges in Western Australia.
THE LAW IN NSW
An Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is any act (but not a failure to act) where a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence and Actual Bodily Harm results.
Assaults are divided into different categories – “common assaults” and “aggravated assaults”. This article deals with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm which is an aggravated assault.
An offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is what is known as a “Table 2” offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made by either the accused or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
The Law in relation to Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is found in section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It states:
(1) Whosoever assaults any person, and thereby occasions actual bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.
(2) A person is guilty of an offence under this subsection if the person commits an offence under subsection (1) in the company of another person or persons. A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
WHAT MUST THE PROSECUTION PROVE?
Since Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.
The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
To establish Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- You applied force, hit or touched another;
- You did so intentionally or recklessly;
- Without consent or lawful excuse; and
- That action caused bodily harm to the other person.
Actual bodily harm is “hurt or injury that interferes with the health or comfort of the person assaulted”.
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