A night of friends celebrating a birthday party descended into violence and bloodshed when one among them stabbed his mate in the throat and bashed another.
But 54-year-old Michael John Butler was spared any more jail time when he was sentenced by the ACT Supreme Court last week.
In Justice Michael Elkaim’s judgment, he said when water flooded Butler’s home, he moved out to the home of two brothers in Kambah, men who were also his friends.
A birthday party kicked off there on 12 August 2020, but during the night, tensions rose between a newcomer and Butler while they drank.
Eventually, one of the brothers told Butler to turn down his aggression. Butler demurred, so the brother said, “well, if you don’t like it, leave”.
Instead, Butler attacked this brother, trapping him on a couch and hitting him in the face with an unknown object. He then stabbed him in the throat with a flick knife.
The newcomer tried to intervene but was also stabbed in the hand and punched in the head.
Police were called and an ambulance took the brother to hospital where it was discovered the stab wound was, fortunately, only to soft tissue.
Butler went on to serve 69 days in custody over the attacks.
Justice Elkaim said one of the brothers had written a statement for the court “which is noteworthy for its graciousness”.
“I am writing this without any malice for Michael [Butler], for me it is not about seeing any more jail time, as the time served seems sufficient,” the brother said.
“This is to say I moved on from that night, but my mind has not.
“I now sleep surrounded by knives in different places as my general sleep has suffered bad. My health has taken a 360° and still need medication from my doctor.
“For as much as I have tried to leave it behind, this event still affects me sadly.”
Butler admitted to the authors of a court report he had been drinking too much that night and said he regretted his actions, including how he had lost a best friend.
Justice Elkaim detailed Butler’s tumultuous life, which included how he had been in and out of prison over many years.
When he was about 12 years old, he was hit on the head with a piece of concrete, which fractured his skull.
His skull was again fractured when he was shot with a tear gun canister during a riot at Bathurst Jail in 1990, and he still has a scar from this injury.
In 1992 he fractured his pelvis and ruptured discs in his back when he fell from a building. A year later, when drunk, he was knocked over by a car.
Butler was also attacked by a group of prisoners in 1998 in Junee jail. They jumped on his head during the incident and he lost consciousness. He was assaulted again in Long Bay Gaol.
Justice Elkaim said medical reports showed Butler, who was on the disability support pension but also worked casual jobs as a cleaner, labourer and administrative assistant, was not very well.
Butler pleaded guilty to assault and using a prohibited weapon. He was sentenced to two years’ jail to be served via an intensive corrections order in the community.