Canberra centre death – man to be charged

Jazz 24 August 2007 59

A man was taken in to custody and will be charged today after knocking two elderly people to the ground about lunch time in the Canberra Centre yesterday. One of those people, a 71 year old woman, died shortly after of a heart attack.

The initial ABC report is here with updated info in this ninemsm news article indicating that a review of closed circuit TV footage shows that both the elderly woman and an earlier attack on a 60 year old man were shoulder-charges not head butts as originally believed. No indication as yet if these attacks where as part of bag snatch attempts, if the offender was drug effected or if he suffers a mental condition.
UPDATE c/- asp

The man accused with shoulder charging a 71 year old woman and another older man in the Canberra Centre yesterday, Matthew Raymond Nicholls, 31, from Ainslie – has bee charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. (Full story at SMH)

Nicholls refused legal aid, and Magistrate Beth Campbell ordered him to undergo evaluation from a health officer before continuing.

Mental evaluation, I hope that is just to follow guidelines because if the judge can’t see that this is one twisted mental case, we need some new judges. Conversly, if it’s found he’s “too” mental and has an actual condition, then he may not have to face trial and meaning he won’t be punished for his actions.

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59 Responses to Canberra centre death – man to be charged
Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 12:46 pm 06 Apr 10

Thoroughly Smashed said :

This and the car being driven into Parliament House… The end of daylight savings is sending everyone stark raving bonkers.

Ugh. That’ll teach me to check the date first.

Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 12:37 pm 06 Apr 10

This and the car being driven into Parliament House… The end of daylight savings is sending everyone stark raving bonkers.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 10:05 am 06 Apr 10

Ralph said :

We are entitled express fair comment.

Expressing the opinion that a schizophrenic should get a “life sentence” for knocking over 2 people is “fair comment”?

It’s a pity that you have to live in the 21st Century, Ralph. You really would have been much happier in the Middle Ages.

hk0reduck hk0reduck 7:45 am 06 Apr 10

The judgment has now been released in this matter.

QUID QUID 9:20 pm 22 Oct 07

My mother was the most beautiful, caring, loving & unselfish person Ive ever known. She was always proud of me and loved me unconditionally. She always taught me to forgive. Her life was tragically taken by this creaton yet she would have forgiven him. I will not forgive and I will not forget until justice is served. If only the law would allow for me her son, to choose his punishment by being left alone in the room with him just with my bare hands to decide his fate, surely that would be justice. He is supposed to be mentally insane yet is sane enough to manipulate the system and LEGALLY escaping lawful custody to get away with taking the innocent life of my mother. Does that make sense whatsoever to anyone What does anyone else think of that for punishment??

TAD TAD 7:46 pm 26 Aug 07

dont remember

TAD TAD 7:45 pm 26 Aug 07

DJ McLaughlin was dead so no ability to in be contempt of court by acknoweledging what a nice guy he was.

Re: Clea Rose, I remember anybody menitioning young BPs crim history or name.

Maelinar Maelinar 7:37 pm 26 Aug 07

4. Don’t discuss previous criminal history of the defendant or personal knowledge of the defendant. (This one would also be easy to avoid and so far hasn’t been seen on this site by me). Anything of this nature would need to be moderated if it happens. – you mean of course all those cranks that showed up after Clea Rose, the nutter who topped himself in his car, etc etc, who have all cited ‘personal knowledge’ are to be discouraged/moderated ?

Man oh man that’s a can o worms. Plus those nutters make this place that much more interesting as we go through the cycle of teaching them to use the spacebar, paragraphs, sentence structure, CAPS LOCK, and then Txt L33t sp33k, until we can finally understand them.

TAD TAD 1:52 pm 26 Aug 07

My basic understanding is that any discussion is fine as long as it isn’t going to derail the judicial process.

1. Don’t name the defendant unless it is already on the public record. (This one is easy because once charged in an open court the name is on the public record, if suppressed by the court then comply with that.)
2. Don’t show a photograph (easy to avoid on this forum – If interstate media show an unpixelated image then obviously don’t link to it. Showing a photo would damage identification of the defendant by witnesses)
3. Use the word allegedly when discussing guilt or innocence. (If a person has been charged then the allegation has been read to them by a magistrate in court in the indictment). Just speaking with an apparent assumption about guilt or innocence is not the same thing IMHO.
4. Don’t discuss previous criminal history of the defendant or personal knowledge of the defendant. (This one would also be easy to avoid and so far hasn’t been seen on this site by me). Anything of this nature would need to be moderated if it happens.
5. Discussion of the investigation specifics. Once sub judice, comments by police are generally restricted to little more than requests for witnesses to come forward. If those in the know wish to comment on this site with the specifics of the evidence against the defendant (other than what has already been provided in open court when charging/bail applications) then that may be contempt.

As far as I’m concerned all other discussion about the circumstances of the alleged crime in general, expected sentencing for the alleged offender (if found guilty) etc is fine. I don’t see anything written so far that would be close to contempt of court. This is particularly as everybody is speaking from no apparent personal knowledge.

If someone was to come on and crap on about the defendant specifically with actual or apparent knowledge then that is a different story.

VicePope VicePope 11:16 am 26 Aug 07

Just a guess, but I don’t think adding the word “alleged” does enough. I’m pretty sure a court would look at the substance, not the last coat of whitewash.

TAD TAD 11:09 pm 25 Aug 07

Just add the word alleged to all your statements when the (alleged) offender is mentioned directly.

VicePope VicePope 10:34 pm 25 Aug 07

That’s not how I’d read it, Sepi. It’s not just sub judice, contempt, defamation or whatever, although anyone who does not consider that kind of thing is, frankly, irresponsible.

The lady left family – her daughters were on the front page of the Canberra Times. She was said to have been the carer for a sick husband. Using her death to make insupportable and irresponsible statements is not helpful of kind to those she left behind.

sepi sepi 10:05 pm 25 Aug 07

So we’re allowed to discuss our thoughts about he case as part of ongoing public duscussion/debate, as long as wel dont’ bring up the offender’s name (if not public knowledge), prior convictions that are not public knowledge etc.


Lock him up!

TAD TAD 9:09 pm 25 Aug 07

Having said that some of the Magistrates have a phenomenal memory for crooks and know exactly their criminal histories from whey convicted them previously.

TAD TAD 9:07 pm 25 Aug 07

The distinction is that it is the defendant’s right to test the evidence against him/her which includes the credibility of the witnesses (their crim history, sexual history if relevant) BUT only evidence that directly relates to the charges that they are facing can be admitted in court. So a long term burglar facing a burglary charge does not have his history admitted because the magistrate/judge/jury would be influenced by that rather than the witness/forensic/police evidence alone.

cranky cranky 8:22 pm 25 Aug 07

It has long puzzled me that details of prior convictions are not allowed to be available to the court (or jury, more specifically). I’m sure that prior actions by persons on the prosecution side (for example, victims of rape) are well detailed during the court process.

Why can a loser not be illuminated as such? It would have more bearing on a safe conviction than hoping against hope that (s)he had nothing to do with the crime.

VicePope VicePope 8:21 pm 25 Aug 07

Thanks for that, TAD. ’nuff said about why I was worried about things like “statements about the guilt or innocence of the accused”. I now feel all judicial and legal.

TAD TAD 7:58 pm 25 Aug 07


The law of contempt of court is a set of rules which have been developed whereby persons who engage in conduct tending to interfere with the administration of justice may be subjected to legal sanctions.

Numerous types of conduct may attract liability for contempt. The form of contempt known as “sub judice” aims to protect a person’s right to a fair trial. Accordingly, a person may be found in contempt of court if they publish (online or otherwise) prejudicial material concerning matters which are, or will be, before the court. This restriction on free speech applies throughout the period in which a case is in the court system. In a criminal case, this period is usually from the time the accused is arrested, until a not guilty verdict has been delivered or all possible avenues of appeal have been exhausted.

Information which is considered to be prejudicial includes details of prior convictions, material or statements which create an adverse impression of the accused, statements about the guilt or innocence of the accused, and in some cases, the identification of the accused.

A limited form of defence to contempt exists which recognises the need for ongoing public discussion about matters of public concern. If material is published in the context of a continuing public debate about an issue, and the risk of prejudice resulting from the material is an incidental and unintended by-product, then publication may not be contemptuous.

cranky cranky 7:41 pm 25 Aug 07


Well said – very fair!

Sub judice is beyond me.

VicePope VicePope 7:31 pm 25 Aug 07

TAD – the question is not whether the police acted reasonably and, though our coppers are capable of error, I doubt they would get it outrageously wrong. My first problem is that they might get it a little wrong. My question is whether uninformed speculation does anyone or anything any good.

Reduce the discourse so far to its elements. A sad thing happened. We all agree that it’s not good when sad things happen. At some earlier point, someone did something that was bad or careless or the result of sickness. We all agree that people should not do bad things – if we discussed it, we would also agree that it is unfortunate when people do things that cause harm to others, even if they do them unintentionally. We agree that society, through established judicial mechanisms, should punish people found to have done bad things. If we discussed it, we might argue about the relevance of consequence to culpability.

That’s all pretty abstract, but I’d suggest it’s the most we can do. There is no certainty and no point in discussing on (a) an assumption the accused is the perpetrator, (b) an assumption the perpetrator is, in a criminal sense, culpable for something, (c) an assumption that the death would have occurred because of the actions of the perpetrator, (d) an assumption that a particular punishment would be appropriate when we know nothing of (i) what charges might be brought and proven or (ii) what other factors might affect sentence.

I’d still be really grateful if someone with some knowledge gave a ten line burst on sub judice/contempt for all our benefits.

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