Buultjens gets 18-month bond
SAMUEL BUULTJENS has received an 18-month good behaviour bond for his role in the death of Irish traveller Colm Kenny at Byron Bay nearly two years ago in an assault fuelled by alcohol.
Buultjens, 21, from Newrybar, told the Lismore District Court yesterday he no longer drank as much alcohol as he did after it was revealed he was binge drinking on Sunday, May 11, 2008, despite assuring the court he was only a ‘moderate’ drinker.
His mother Melinda (Lindy) admitted to being ‘horrified’ by the amount of alcohol her son drank on the night.
Buultjens had been accused of felling the Irish engineer with a single punch to the chin after chasing Mr Kenny down the street, but the punch was not listed as being the official cause of death.
Instead, medical evidence before Judge James Black was that Mr Kenny may have fainted at the time of the punch because of a pre-existing heart condition, causing him to fall and hit his head on the bitumen road.
An autopsy revealed Mr Kenny died as a result of the head injury sustained when his head hit the roadway. It was also revealed he suffered pre-existing coronary artery vessel disease.
A Crown document before the court stated ‘expert medical opinion obtained by the Crown is to the effect that due to this medical condition it was possible that Mr Kenny fell to the roadway independently of the punch inflicted by Buultjens’.
The Crown acknowledged in its prosecution of Buultjens that this subsequent ‘fall’ had been also supported by some eyewitness accounts.
Buultjens was convicted and placed on the bond under the supervision of Probation Services after pleading guilty before Judge Black to the charge of assault causing bodily harm to Mr Kenny, 30, in Jonson Street at 3.30am.
The plea was accepted by the Crown after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter.
“It is something I could never imagine happening to me. It’s changed my whole life,” Buultjens told the court.
“I’m extremely sorry. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you guys (referring to the family and friends of Mr Kenny seated in the courtroom) and I’m sorry for that.”
In cross-examination from Crown prosecutor Julia Baly, Buultjens agreed that ultimately it had been his conduct that night which led to the death of Mr Kenny.
Buultjens drank six schooners of beer at the Beach Hotel, and drank a beer and a vodka in 15 minutes at the Great Northern Hotel, before going to Cheeky Monkeys nightclub, where he had six or seven bourbon mixes.
“Yet you told the police that on the night you were only moderately intoxicated, that’s possibly 15 drinks that night,” Ms Baly said.
“I do believe I’m a moderate drinker. I believe that night was an exception,” Buultjens said. He had been out with football mates celebrating an AFL match played in Victoria.
“The fact is young people in Byron Bay on Saturday nights drink extraordinary amounts of alcohol,” Ms Baly said.
“Yes,” Buultjens agreed.
“You behaved violently that night, do you accept that?” the Crown asked.
“Yes I do,” Buultjens replied.
Leading defence counsel Peter Hamill SC outlined how the assault and injury had only been to the chin and was minor.
“It was not a sustained assault and effectively consisted of one punch which grazed the victim,” he said.
Mr Hamill said the evidence did not support that his client caused the death of Mr Kenny, or that Buultjens had acted in any way that was ‘objectively dangerous’.
In convicting Buultjens, Judge Black said he could not take into account the death of Mr Kenny in the assault offence.
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