Charge dropped in war veteran bashing case
A MAN who police initially believed had attacked an Afghanistan veteran on Anzac Day last year has pleaded guilty to larceny, drug possession and carrying an illegal weapon.
On Friday Lismore Local Court heard that the primary charge against Jake Norman Neil Walker, 31, of aggravated robbery causing grievous bodily harm to an Afghanistan veteran at the Allsop Park, Nimbin cenotaph on April 25, 2018, was withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions in November, 2018.
Mr Walker was originally suspected to be one of the three men accused of attacking the veteran but those charges were later dropped when it was discovered Mr Walker had attended to the victim and provided assistance after the attack.
Solicitor Jim Fuggle, who represented Mr Walker on Friday, said after his client had helped the victim he had found a pair of sunglasses at the scene and mistakenly picked them up and kept them without reporting them to police.
"My client was aware of that incident and he assisted that person," Mr Fuggle said.
"There was a pair of sunglasses on the scene and he kept those sunnies. He accepts that he should have handed those in."
Magistrate David Heilpern said he understood why police were led to believe Mr Walker was involved in the attack after he was seen on CCTV footage wearing the sunglasses.
"The defendant was present when the victim was assaulted or was close by, assisted the victim but did not call for assistance. He made sure they were comfortable but did not report the matter further," Mr Heilpern said.
"The man found sunglasses and put them on and wore them for some time. He was seen on CCTV footage which led to the police (assumptions) he was involved.
"He could have helped himself if he had assisted police in the offence he was being arrested in."
Mr Walker pleaded guilty to larceny for the sunglasses, as well as charges of resisting arrest, assaulting police, weapons charges including possession of a taser and ammunition, and drug possession.
He will serve three months in jail and will be eligible for parole on July 11, 2019.
Mr Heilpern said the pressure of the charges were time consuming for all involved, including the court.
"This matter has taken a tortuous path, the events of the alleged original charge occurred in April 2018, it's been nearly 12 months," he said.
"During that time that defendant has been on extremely strict bail conditions and rehabilitation .
"After the initial bail decision that I made, he has been under very strict bail condition that include reporting residential and curfew conditions. They were substantially reduced in November 2018. The reason was when the DPP withdrew the primary charge.
"After I granted bail it was extremely publicised in the media....and it was alleged that (Mr Walker) not only beat a veteran who was attending outside the cenotaph, but he also stole form him at the time."
Mr Fuggle said his client understood he should have assisted police better but at the time was "suffering" from a drug addiction.
"He comes across as someone who understands his situation, he knows drugs are not good for him, he knows he can do better and there are times in his life where he has achieved some form of abstinence," Mr Fuggle said.
Mr Heilpern said he believed Mr Walker had in the past made an effort to turn his life around as there was a "substantial gap" of five years between Mr Walker facing the court on previous charges.
Meanwhile, Mr Walker's co-accused Kyle Hudson had a charge of aggravated robbery causing grievous bodily harm withdrawn by the prosecution in October 2018.