Not guilty for manslaughter

A JURY has found Gold Coast labourer Cyrus Peri not guilty of the manslaughter of Byron Bay businessman Mark Wallace after a scuffle between the two men in a park outside Twin Towns Services Club at Tweed Heads.

It took the Lismore District Court jury less than an hour yesterday to return the not guilty verdict, much to the relief of 28-year-old Peri, from Runaway Bay, and a large group of supporters made up of his family and friends, who were seated in the public gallery.

Mr Peri has been facing the serious charge since January 2008, after a night out with his girlfriend Kylie Newman and her friends, Donna McKevett and Mark Wallace, that went horribly wrong.

The evening ended in tragedy when Mr Wallace, 42, died on January 6 in a Gold Coast hospital as a result of serious head injuries he received during a scuffle with Mr Peri after leaving the club at 3.30am on January 5.

Mr Peri’s lawyer, Chris Nyst, speaking after the verdict was given, said his client was ‘relieved and thankful’ for the jury decision.

“This matter has been a tragedy for all parties and there have not been any winners,” Mr Nyst said.

Crown evidence at the trial stated the two men had met on at least four occasions previously and were friendly towards each other.

The group had been staying together in a Tweed Heads unit owned by the father of Mr Wallace as part of a New Year catch-up by the two women, who had been good friends for many years.

All four had been drinking after going out in Coolangatta, returning to their unit and then walking across to the Twin Towns Services Club, where they played the poker machines and pool. As they left the club the two men were observed by the women to be fighting some distance away.

There was no dispute during the trial that the cause of Mr Wallace’s death had been the injury to his head, the result of falling on to bitumen.

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