Three choose trial over hotel bashing

THREE Northern Rivers men will stand trial on serious assault charges after an attack on two men outside the Great Northern Hotel at Byron Bay in which one of the victims had his head stomped on.

Nicholas Stafford Sharp, 27, from Ocean Shores, Lee Frederick Funnell, 26, from Brunswick Heads, and Dean Phelps 25, from Suffolk Park and now living at Broadbeach, on the Gold Coast, yesterday waived their right to a committal hearing in Lismore Local Court, electing to stand trial in Lismore District Court at a date to be fixed.

Sharp faces the most serious charge of attempted murder on Dallas Arnold, 31, from Pottsville, at 10.50pm on March 7. He is accused of punching and then stomping on Mr Arnold’s head as he lay injured on the footpath. He is also charged with affray; and with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Phelps, a physiotherapy student, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to Nathan Spratt, 31, of Brunswick Heads, at Byron Bay on March 7; affray – using unlawful violence toward Mr Arnold and Mr Spratt; and assault in company causing actual bodily harm.

Both victims had been attending a buck’s barbecue at Brunswick Heads before going into Byron Bay, where the assaults took place.

Funnell is charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Arnold; affray – using unlawful violence toward Mr Arnold and Mr Spratt; and assault causing actual bodily harm in company.

After reading Crown documents tendered to the court, Magistrate Robyn Denes found there was enough evidence for a jury to convict the men.

The Crown prosecutor had stated in a previous court hearing that the assaults had been witnessed by many people, and as many as 20 could be called to give evidence at the three men’s trials – likely to be set for early next year.

In documents tendered to the court before Ms Denes, witnesses gave varying accounts of the events on the night night outside the Great Northern, where a large crowd had gathered. Some stated that the assaults appeared to be unprovoked.

One witness told police he saw a man punched three of four times before falling to the ground and not moving.

The man then began kicking him on the ground. A second man also began kicking him.

He and another witness stated they saw a large man lift his foot in the air before stomping on the man’s head, with one telling police he saw people ‘backing away from the man in fear’.

Another witness said he had yelled out to one of the attackers, telling him to stop or he would kill the man.

The three men have been granted bail. Sharp’s $100,000 bail is guaranteed by his father.



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