NEWRYBAR man Samuel Buultjens will stand trial next month charged with manslaughter over the death of an Irish traveller at Byron Bay in May 2008.
Buultjens, 21, was informed last year the Director of Public Prosecutions would proceed to prosecute the matter, despite a Lismore Local Court magistrate dismissing the matter some months earlier after finding a jury could not ‘safely’ convict Buultjens of the offence.
The DPP subsequently disagreed with the magistrate’s order and in accordance with prosecution guidelines decided to lay ex officio charges directly in the trial court.
Buultjens was later arraigned on the charge of manslaughter of Colm Kenny, aged 30. He 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 ground 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.
During the committal hearing of the matter in May last year, Magistrate Robyn Denes found the case to be largely circumstantial.
Witnesses at the hearing gave differing accounts of what they saw. This ranged from seeing a man stumbling then falling and hearing ‘the sickly crack’ as his head hit the road, to the two men looking like they were simply ‘mucking around’.
DPP Prosecutor Brendan Queenan argued the case should go before a jury because ‘single punch’ manslaughter where a person injured their head falling and then dying was a common occurrence.
Senior counsel for Buultjens, Peter Hamill, argued Mr Kenny may have fainted then fallen, saying an autopsy revealed the Irishman had a heart condition.
A more serious charge against Buultjens of murder was withdrawn by the DPP before the committal hearing.
The trial is listed for the Lismore District Court on February 8.