A 22-year-old man has avoided spending time in jail after his “surrogate mother” and her boyfriend accused him of being the sole attacker in a vicious assault they all played a role in.
Brandon Ashley Edgerton was not related to Jennie Louise Wright but still thought of her as family according to the facts of the case previously released by the ACT Supreme Court.
Wright, a mother of eight, and her boyfriend, Michael John Barron, were in dispute with their future victim in early 2020. They planned to assault him when he came to her house in Kaleen to collect some of his belongings.
Barron, who worked as a landscaper before being placed on a disability support pension, got a two-foot metal trolley pole and disconnected the home’s closed-circuit television.
Wright told their victim to come over on 24 February 2020. She later called another person to tell them the man would be “going on a long holiday”.
Shortly before he arrived, Wright instructed Edgerton to help the man move an item so they could carry out the attack.
When the man arrived early that afternoon, Edgerton offered to help him, but as they were carrying a trash pack frame towards his car, the man saw Barron approaching him with the metal pole.
Barron hit the man in the head several times with the pole, knocking him to the ground. He continued to bash him, making him bleed profusely.
Barron allowed the man to stand up and Edgerton helped him carry the frame to the car before Barron yelled, “f–k off and don’t come back”.
The man was taken to Calvary Hospital with serious injuries, including a chipped tooth, facial fractures and deep lacerations on his scalp and face. One cut left his skull visible.
Later texts showed Barron and Wright discussed how to clear Barron of any wrongdoing and blame the attack on Edgerton.
Edgerton said he did not help plan the attack and had told the other two he didn’t wish to join in. A court report said he had been surprised by the “ferocity of the assault”.
“No doubt he would have been influenced by the fact that Ms Wright was, in effect, his surrogate mother,” Chief Justice Helen Murrell said.
She said after Edgerton had been homeless for a time in his adolescence, Wright invited him to live with her. He now lives in Sydney.
All three pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.
On Wednesday (25 August), Edgerton appeared in the ACT Supreme Court over audio-visual link as he had been caught up in the coronavirus lockdown in Sydney.
Chief Justice Helen Murrell spared him time behind bars by sentencing him to 18-months jail which was fully suspended. He must live under a good behaviour order for that time.
In February, 44-year-old Wright, who lives on government welfare, had been sentenced to two years’ jail to be served via an intensive corrections order, a community-based sentence. She spent 132 days in custody before she was sentenced.
In October last year, 35-year-old Barron was sentenced to three years and nine months’ jail. His non-parole period of two years and two months means he is eligible to be released in October 2022.