24 November 2023

Man allegedly bashed in head with a hammer, throat cut with knife in Kingston

| Albert McKnight
Coat of Arms on court building

James Edward Darrell Austin, 31, is accused of being behind a hammer attack in Kingston. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article may distress some readers.

A mechanic hung his head and sobbed when he was refused bail after being accused of hitting a man in the face with a hammer and cutting his throat with a knife.

Just hours before the alleged incident, a man had parked his car at Majura Park at around 9:30 pm last Friday (17 November) when he saw a Toyota Landcruiser crash into the back of it, police allege in court documents.

He allegedly recognised the driver, claiming it was 31-year-old James Edward Darrell Austin, who drove off without speaking to him.

Then at about 1:40 am on Saturday (18 November), the man was sitting around a campfire in the front yard of a home in Kingston with a group of friends when three men approached them.

It is alleged one of the three, Mr Austin, walked up to one of the group from behind, held a knife to his throat with enough pressure to leave a cut and said, “F-k you dog”.

He allegedly tackled the man to the ground and then used a hammer to hit him in the face.

It is alleged Mr Austin dragged the man to the ground a second time and hit him in the back of his head with the hammer, then held the knife against the man’s throat again while saying, “I’m going to kill you”.

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The two other intruders allegedly said, “Cut his legs off”, “Get him”, and “Just stab [him]”. These two also reportedly smashed a glass bottle and tried to stab the man while kicking and hitting him.

“You’ve got the wrong guy,” the man said while trying to protect himself.

The others at the fire told the three alleged attackers police had been called, but before they left, Mr Austin allegedly told them, “I will burn your house down”.

Police arrived shortly afterwards and began to search for the three intruders. Mr Austin was found driving the Landcruiser with two male passengers less than 10 minutes later.

He was given a breath-alcohol test about an hour later, returning a reading of 0.144, almost three times the legal driving limit.

The Banks resident was arrested and taken to hospital due to concerns about his mental health, then returned to the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (23 November) and applied for bail.

His lawyer, Legal Aid’s Natasha Goode, said his “life turned upside down” recently after he and his partner had broken up.

She said the allegations were completely out of character for him and appeared to occur at the time of a significant mental health event.

But prosecutor Harry Wagner, when opposing bail, argued Mr Austin had been heavily intoxicated at the time and he called the alleged incident “prolonged, targetted and deliberate”.

He also said police had no information about the motive behind the allegations.

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Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker said the allegations were very serious and while she was satisfied Mr Austin did have some kind of mental illness, she did not know what it was or if it related to the allegations. She said it did not appear to be a psychotic response.

She thought there was a real risk to the community, particularly those subjected to the alleged threats, and refused bail.

Mr Austin, a man with numerous neck tattoos and a cheek piercing, then sobbed and looked towards his mother, who was present in the courtroom.

He has been charged with assault, threatening to kill another person, damaging property, drink driving and not giving particulars to another driver after a crash.

The cases against him and his co-defendants will be back in court on 11 December. The co-defendants have not been named as it was unclear whether they had faced court or not.

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