Head stomper also hit girl

IT IS not every day you see two men jumping on the crumpled bonnet of a crashed car.

Matthew Smyth smashed his red Commodore into a pole at Kyogle about 1.20am on August 16 last year and then proceeded to jump up and down, with another youth, on the bonnet.

The strange antics caught the attention of Kyogle teenager Grayson Merrychurch, who was walking past at the time with his girlfriend. Smyth then stopped jumping on the car and turned his attentions to the onlooker, attacking him.

Mr Merrychurch took off, but Smyth chased him. He punched him and then stomped on the teenager’s head while he was injured and unconscious on the ground.

Smyth also punched Mr Merrychurch’s 19-year-old fiancée, Natalie Hotko, in the face when she tried to protect her injured partner.

Smyth, 31, then of Kyogle, but now living in Orange, pleaded guilty in the Lismore Magistrates Court to two counts of assault, but not guilty to assaulting Mr Merrychurch, 19, and causing him bodily harm while in company of a youth aged 17.

The Kyogle youth, who was jumping on the bonnet with Smyth, was also seen to chase and then hit and kick Mr Merrychurch at the same time as Smyth.

The police prosecutor, Sgt Peter Costin-Neilsen, refused to drop the more serious charge and Magistrate Robyn Denes, after hearing the evidence, found the offence proven, warning Smyth he now faced doing jail time.

Ms Denes found the assault was ‘done in company’ saying ‘they were both laying the boot in’.

“I do not accept Smyth’s evidence of a fight. And there is simply no excuse for assaulting a woman,” Ms Denes told Smyth.

“I have a saying, where in my view if the boot goes in then so does he.”

Ms Denes rejected Smyth’s claim that the much smaller Mr Merrychurch ‘invited him up the hill for a fight’.

In her statement to police, Ms Hotko said: “They (Smyth and the youth) repeatedly punched and kicked Grayson. I was yelling for help.

“Grayson was lying prone on the ground with his arms out. The muscly bloke (Smyth) went back over to Grayson and jumped on his head with both feet. He then kicked him two or three times in the head and body. I screamed at him and the muscly bloke ran away.”

Ms Hotko stated that when she yelled for help moments before ‘the muscly bloke (Smyth) looked at me and took a step towards me and punched me in the right eye with his fist. It caused me extreme pain’.

Ms Denes also read out a witness statement from a nearby resident who stated: “I saw a black fellow chase Grayson up the road. I saw the black fellow stomp on his head.”

Smyth said he and the youth were jumping on the bonnet of his car trying to release the bonnet when he was approached by another young man who had objected to what he was doing.

There had been other people at the scene who initially suspected Smyth and the youth were damaging a car from the adjacent car yard, where Smyth lived in a flat, but Smyth said he told them it was his car and to go away and mind their own business.

He admitted the group got him ‘aggravated’.

Sgt Costin-Neilsen said witnesses had seen both the accused in company committing the offences, showing they had ‘shared a common purpose in the assaults’.

Defence lawyer Peter Walsh said Smyth had not known his co-accused, who had been ‘a perfect stranger’ who had come along before the fight started.

“He simply denies even knowing the person,” he said.

Smyth will be sentenced on August 2. His co-offender will appear in the Lismore Children’s Court today.

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