Punch leads to gun being drawn

PHILLIP Jason Charles saw the revolver rise and his giant left fist flicked out, crashing into the jaw of the gunman’s brother.

Using the stunned brother’s body as a shield, Charles advanced on the raised pistol before snatching it from the gunman’s hand and, after a brief struggle, fleeing with the weapon and cracking it open, only to discover it was not loaded.

At least, that’s what he told Lismore Local Court.

Magistrate Robyn Denes on Friday dismissed Charles’ story as fiction and convicted the 29-year-old Kyogle man of assaulting John Pittman, 20, at the Urbenville home Mr Pittman shared with his brother, Samuel.

The brothers told the court Charles punched John without warning or provocation at the house after coming around to share a few beers on February 6 this year. The only gun brought into play, they said, was a broken plastic cap-gun Samuel used to try scaring Charles into leaving the house after he attacked John.

John Pittman told the court he met Charles on the street and had agreed to pick up a carton of VB stubbies they would share at his house.

Samuel Pittman told the court later in the evening Charles had asked him what he would do if he punched his brother.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Samuel replied.

Some time later, John and Charles were chatting, Samuel was nearby getting a drink from the kitchen, when the punch came.

John told the court he didn’t see it coming – the first he knew was when pain exploded in his face as Charles’ fist connected with his jaw, fracturing it.

Samuel turned to Charles, who had said nothing, and demanded: “Did you just hit my brother?”

Samuel then demanded Charles leave the house. Eventually he picked up the cap-gun from the lounge room and pointed it at Charles, again repeating his demand he leave.

The gun spurred Charles into action. He moved at Samuel and the pair had a brief wrestle before Charles fled the house – the brothers both said he lobbed a stubbie at Samuel as he left, missing him and hitting the fridge.

Charles insisted his version of events was correct, saying he acted in self defence after Samuel, who had taken an unknown drug, began accusing him of stealing his cannabis before pulling the gun – which Charles said was real. Samuel admitted to using cannabis, but denied having taken any drugs or drinking any alcohol that evening.

Magistrate Robyn Denes didn’t believe Charles’ story, suggesting it was unlikely someone, faced with what they believed to be a real, loaded gun, would move towards the weapon rather than try to get out of the house.

Police had gone to the Pittman house after the event and been shown the toy cap-gun. A search of the house failed to find any weapons.

Ms Denes formally convicted Charles and adjourned the case to Monday, November 30, for sentence.

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