"Fear made me do it' - Accused takes stand in one-punch trial

A TAMWORTH man has admitted he punched another man because he was scared and frightened that he would be hit during an altercation in Tamworth’s CBD.

Jack Stevenson

Jack Stevenson

For the first time since the November 8 incident, Jack Stevenson recalled his version of events in Tamworth District Court yesterday, claiming he acted in self-defence when he hit 37-year-old Curtis Ah Shay in Peel St.

Witnesses recalled hearing a thud when Mr Ah Shay’s skull hit the ground before he suffered an extremely severe brain injury.

Late yesterday, the jury retired to consider its verdict after Stevenson took to the stand.

“He pushed me, I was frightened ... so I pushed him back,” Stevenson told the jury.

“That’s when I took my right hand and jabbed him.

“Because I was very scared he was going to punch me.”

After he left, Stevenson said he called Courthouse Licensee Mathew Wilson and admitted he was a “d***head.”

“Because I got myself involved in Nicholas’ (Walters) and Curtis’ fight, I had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“It should never happen to anyone,” he said of what had happened to Mr Ah Shay.

But Stevenson said Mr Ah Shay had told him three times he was “going to smash your head into the f****** concrete”.

He admitted that the “silliness” between him and Mr Ah Shay started after he noticed him smiling at the Courthouse Hotel bar.

“He poked his tongue out, I poked mine back, he blew a kiss, I blew one back at him,” he said.

“I was just carrying on with what he was doing.”

When Nicholas Walters, Stevenson and Mr Ah Shay were in the pool room a little while later, Stevenson said the other pair had a verbal argument.

“I tried to poke Mr Ah Shay with it (a pool cue). He did not turn around,” Stevenson said.

He admitted he “was just carrying along with what had happened at the bar.”

“To lighten the mood?” defence solicitor Jason Curtis asked.

“Yeah, lighten the mood,” Stevenson replied.

In cross-examination, the crown prosecutor suggested Stevenson was instead goading Mr Ah Shay.

“You had joined in baiting him hadn’t you,” the crown asked.

“No, not at all,” Stevenson replied.

Stevenson denied picking on him and said he was just “being silly.”

“You went outside to be the leader, to hit him first,” the crown submitted.

“No, not at all,” Stevenson replied, telling the court he went outside to diffuse the situation.

“You were not afraid of Mr Ah Shay at all that night ...” the crown submitted.

“Yes, I was,” Stevenson replied.

The crown pointed out that Stevenson did not stop to justify his actions when a witness yelled at him, “because you knew what you had done was wrong”.

“No, not at all,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said he regretted going outside and getting himself “involved in it.”

JURY DELIBERATING

THE jury will resume deliberations this morning to decide if the accused overstepped the mark last year.

Defence solicitor Jason Curtis said his client, Jack Stevenson, was frightened and acted in self defence but the crown maintains this is not the case.

“The crown says it was deliberate,” the prosecutor said in closing submissions in Tamworth District Court yesterday.

The crown submitted Stevenson’s punch was not a “reasonable response in the circumstances.”

“If he hasn’t instigated the bad blood in the bar, he has joined in,” the crown told the jury.

The crown said eye-witness Nicholas Walters “didn’t recall any pushing or shoving.”

“He made the right, proper decision ... the accused did the opposite,” the Crown said.

“A young man Jack Stevenson who has decided to take the law into his own hands...”

But in his closing arguments, defence solicitor Jason Curtis said the serious head injury was a result of the complainant falling to the ground.

“This is tragic,” he told the jury.

“Should somebody else be to blame?”

Mr Curtis said his client was having a cigarette before he followed Mr Walters and Mr Ah Shay to try and defuse the situation.

“He becomes embroiled in it when Mr Ah Shay comes at him,” he said.

“He’s responded with a punch to get the man away. Does he regret what happened? Yes, that was his evidence.”

Mr Curtis said it was reasonable because his client was scared after being threatened that night.

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