SAMUEL BUULTJENS will not stand trial on the ‘single punch’ manslaughter of Irish traveller Colm Kenny in Byron Bay, after an unexpected twist with the Newrybar man yesterday pleading guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing bodily harm.
The Crown informed Judge James Black in the Lismore District Court the case had been resolved and asked for the accused to be re-arraigned on the charges.
Standing in the dock with the jury about to be selected for his manslaughter trial, Buultjens, 21, was again arraigned on the charges to which he had previously pleaded not guilty.
To the charge that he unlawfully killed Mr Kenny, aged 30, in May 2008, Buultjens pleaded not guilty.
To the charge of assault causing actual bodily harm to Mr Kenny, Buultjens replied guilty.
Buultjens was watched by his concerned parents who held hands seated in the back row of the public gallery.
Also in the courtroom was Mr Kenny’s father John, his uncle Jim Kenny and best friend Brian Gilligan, who had been holidaying in Byron Bay with Mr Kenny at the time of his death.
The Crown prosecutor accepted the guilty plea, and Peter Hammill SC, for Buultjens, said he would require half-a-day to make submissions on behalf of his client.
Buultjens is accused of punching the Irishman on a Byron Bay street at 3.30am on May 11, 2008.
Mr Kenny is believed to have then fallen to the pavement, striking his head.
The civil engineer from Ballycastle in County Mayo never regained consciousness from his head injuries and died a week later in a Brisbane hospital.
In May last year witnesses at a committal hearing in the Lismore Local Court gave differing accounts of what they saw.
One account said that the two men looked like they were simply ‘mucking around’.
On Monday, lengthy legal argument was heard before Judge Black with regard to concerns by the defence over some material the Crown was expected to put before the jury.
Judge Black adjourned the matter until tomorrow.