Woods family face more serious charge over alleged bashing
A MORE serious charge could see three generations of a Bora Ridge family facing up to 14 years jail over the alleged bashing of their neighbour in relation to the removal of some trees.
Roger Wood OAM, his son Michael and grandson Patrick were initially each charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm in the company of others and affray, charges that carry a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
The charges related to the alleged assault on neighbour Steven Presbury at his Bloodwood Rd home on January 31, over an argument about removing trees from Michael Wood's neighbouring property.
After Mr Presbury was part-heard giving evidence on July 30, police prosecutors realised his injuries were more serious, so they laid a charge of inflicting reckless grievous bodily harm in company against the Wood trio on October 20.
At Lismore Local Court on Thursday, prosecutor Ms Miller applied to Magistrate David Heilpern to have all three charges dealt with together at the Wood's next court appearance.
The defence barristers for the Wood family tendered written submissions to Mr Heilpern concerning the fresh, more serious charge.
The written submissions questioned whether the criminal procedure act permitted a more serious charge being laid after evidence had already been part-heard in the matter.
"There is a significant and unfair prejudice if the prosecution is allowed to proceed in this way," Patrick Wood's barrister Ben Cochrane submitted.
Mr Heilpern told the court the defence submissions argued laying a more serious charge after evidence had been heard was against section 263 of the criminal procedure act, which was unfair, and deprived the Wood men of the ability to elect to have their matters dealt with in the District Court.
"For them to have the right to elect taken away from them by the laying of additional charges is very serious indeed," Mr Heilpern said.
"It is not a minor matter to ad an extra charge that carries double the maximum penalty."
Mr Cochrane requested Mr Heilpern apply a stay to the fresh charge, that prevented it being dealt with, which he described as a rareity.
Mr Heilpern said until the initial two charges had been resolved in the court, he would be applying a temporary stay on the more serious charge on the basis of fairness and election.
The Wood's matters were adjourned until March 2016 for hearing.