Victim 'just handy' - Judge
By HELEN JACK firstname.lastname@example.org A MAN who cut another man's throat so he could go to jail as a way to solve his alcohol and gambling problems may be granted his wish.
Former carnival owner Michael Brian Wood, of Armidale, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison with a non-parole period of seven years.
He was found guilty by Lismore District Court Judge Black yesterday of malicious wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm to an employee, Daniel Murray, at Mullumbimby Showground in November 2005.
In sentencing, Judge Black said he was not convinced Wood intended to murder Mr Murray, but was convinced he intended to harm somebody that fateful evening. It just happened to be Murray.
During five days of evidence it was revealed that on November 18, 2005, Woods, an alcoholic and chronic gambler, was drinking as he and his employees set up rides for the Bangalow Show.
On finishing their work for the day Mr Murray drove his friend Colin Russell and Wood back to their camp at Mullumbimby Showground.
Wood went to his caravan and continued drinking. Mr Murray and Mr Russell returned to their camp to drink and smoke cannabis with two other mates.
Mr Murray and Mr Russell went to bed around 9.30pm in a caravan which they shared.
Around 2am Wood entered the men's caravan, walked over to Mr Murray, rolled him onto his back, straddled him on the bed and held his head down while he cut Mr Murray's throat with a Leatherman utility knife.
During the attack Wood was heard to say to Mr Murray he was an unfortunate soul and deserved to die.
He was heard to say to his wife when she entered the caravan that he would lie with Mr Murray until he died.
Mr Murray survived after being taken to Mullumbimby Hospital by Wood's wife.
"Wood's anger and frustration at his own circumstances led to a frame of mind that he was going to vent it on somebody and Mr Murray was the unfortunate person to receive it," Judge Black said.
"While there was a lack of specific intent in the choice of victim there was no lack of specific intent of what he was going to do."
Judge Black said there was no evidence that Wood formed intent to do harm before he began drinking. He said at the time of the incident the accused was unable to form specific intent.
"The accused knew he had a knife and the blades would have to be opened out which requires deliberate effort and there would be in my view, to apply the knife to anybody's throat, sufficient force to cause the injuries described."
Defence barrister Jerry Prus asked Judge Black for leniency when sentencing Wood.
He requested the Judge consider a suspended sentence saying Wood had undergone rehabilitation and changed his lifestyle. He had sold his carnival to avoid the culture of heavy drinking associated with the industry.
Wood testified he had graduated from an eight-month drug and alcohol rehabilitation course in Brisbane, was retraining at TAFE and reunited with his wife and son.
Judge Black will hand down his sentence on Monday. Wood was remanded in custody.