Not guilty - Emotions boil over as one-punch accused cleared

HIS distraught family openly sobbed and Jack Stevenson had tears streaming down his face just moments before he walked free from court yesterday afternoon.

After seven long months and a five-day trial, the 21-year-old was acquitted of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm after he punched Curtis Ah Shay in Peel St on November 8. It took a day of deliberations before the 12-member jury returned to Tamworth District Court yesterday with a unanimous verdict.

“Not guilty,” the foreman uttered to the court.

After embracing his family, Stevenson didn’t say a word, refusing to comment when he walked out of the court surrounded by his parents and siblings.

Just a day earlier, when asked about what he thought of what had happened to Mr Ah Shay, he told the court “it should never happen to anyone”.

The road to delivering a verdict wasn’t an easy one for the jury.

Yesterday, they returned to the courtroom twice to ask questions to the judge on the exact definitions of the law and the indictment.

The court was told there was no dispute that grievous bodily harm had been occasioned to Mr Ah Shay with the critical injuries he suffered after his skull cracked on the ground.

The court had been told he suffered an extremely severe traumatic brain injury and consequently had significant impairments after the bleeding on the brain.

Mr Ah Shay is still receiving rehabilitation for his injuries and could not make it to court for the proceedings.

Stevenson didn’t deny the punch which came following run-ins in the Courthouse Hotel earlier that night.

Judge Deborah Payne told the court yesterday, the jury had to be satisfied the accused was reckless as to cause actual bodily harm at the time of the punch, meaning he didn’t have to foresee the injuries that eventually stemmed from the incident.

After further deliberations, the jury returned to the court room with the not guilty verdict, less then five minutes before the case was to adjourn for the weekend.

The crown had maintained throughout the trial the punch was deliberate and the accused had left the scene without saying a word because he knew “what he had done was wrong.”

The crown submitted the 21-year-old regretted hitting Mr Ah Shay so hard that it knocked him out.

“I regret going outside and getting myself involved in it,” Stevenson said on the stand.

But in his submissions, defence solicitor Jason Curtis had maintained his client was acting in self-defence after he was threatened.

“The threat outside is acted upon,” he told the jury.

“He says he punched him because he was scared.

“Was that reasonable, I say yes.”

Since his arrest just hours after the incident, Stevenson has been on strict bail conditions including not to drink alcohol or enter licensed premises.

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