Argument over a meat pie led to drawn-out court process
A MAN who was jailed over a meat pie-fuelled attack on his housemate has successfully appealed his convictions.
Ballina man Michael Paul Stevens, 38, was sentenced in May to 18 months' prison with a nine month non-parole period over a November 5, 2018 incident.
After a hearing before Ballina Local Court, he was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and reckless wounding of his flatmate in Seaview St in East Ballina.
But he was, at the same time, found not guilty of a further reckless wounding charge on the basis of self-defence.
The court heard the fight was sparked by a disagreement over a meat pie.
In a hearing before Lismore District Court on Monday, solicitor Kylie Anderson-Clarke highlighted the court's "need to scrutinise" the evidence offered by the alleged victim, including questions of whether he was honest and accurate.
She said discrepancies between the man's accounts of the incident, including changes in the order of events, "would cause the court to have concern".
The court heard Stevens' housemate had been open about being under the influence of substances the day of the incident.
"There is a concession by him in relation to his use of alcohol on that day," she said.
She said in an interview with police, he'd also admitted to having taken prescription drugs.
"There's a concession by him that he may have been consuming cannabis on that day also," she said.
Ms Anderson-Clarke said this cast doubt on the alleged victim's reliability and credibility.
The Crown prosecutor agreed Ms Stevens was acting in self-defence in terms of the assault occasioning actual bodily harm offence, but argued the force he used in allegedly gouging the other man's eyes was "excessive".
Ms Anderson-Clarke said her client didn't concede that he "deliberately eye-gouged" the other man.
She told the court Mr Stevens may have inadvertently placed his fingers in the other man's eyes while trying to disarm him of a cricket bat.
"In my submission, your honour would accept that the need for Mr Stevens to defend himself throughout the incident did not seem to come to an end until the incident had actually finished," she said.
The Crown also argued against an appeal relating to the other offence, in which Mr Stevens was said to cut the other man's ear with scissors.
But Ms Anderson-Clarke said the court couldn't be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt this injury was not occasioned when the men wrestled and fell on a fish tank.
Judge Dina Yehia upheld the appeal and set aside both of Mr Stevens' convictions.