Man convicted on brawl charges

THOMAS James Crawford says he didn’t start the fight that left another man badly injured, but he certainly finished it.

Crawford, 19, of Evans Head, this week appeared in Lismore Local Court pleading not guilty to charges of affray, assault and recklessly causing grievous bodily harm in a brawl involving him and three other men at Evans Head about 11pm on June 5.

Magistrate Nick Reimer found the charges against Crawford proven and will sentence him on February 8.

One of the men suffered serious injuries in the brawl, including a broken cheek bone and injuries to one of his eyes, which ended with the man lying on the ground while Crawford repeatedly punched him in the face.

In an interview with police, tabled as evidence in the court, Crawford admitted hitting the man, but says he didn’t start the fight.

Crawford said he and a mate were walking through the plaza at Evans Head when the man and another man began taunting them.

“They were just giving us cheek saying this sign (the pair were carrying) said we were poofters and we are gay,” Crawford said in a transcript of the interview.

He said he and his mate ‘had a laugh’ and kept walking – their taunters were ‘much bigger’ than them – but the taunts continued and Crawford stopped and turned around.

Crawford said one of the men attacked his mate and then it was on between him and the remaining man. “I acted out of scaredness,” he told police.

Evidence put by Crawford’s victim claimed it was Crawford and his mate that started it. He had lost a large chunk of memory around the event and could remember little of the attack itself.

In finding the charges proven, Mr Reimer said the incident, regardless of who started the fight, boiled down to Crawford’s sustained attack on the man after he had fallen to the ground.

“Whether or not there was initially a need for him to seek to defend himself is one issue, but clearly there’s been punching of the victim on the ground,” Mr Reimer said. That continued attack took the incident beyond simple self-defence, he said.

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