After a man was punched in the head in a Canberra pub he was hospitalised with life-threatening injuries and spent three days in an induced coma before waking up with temporary amnesia.
A recently released ACT Supreme Court judgement shows Zane Daniel was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm over the attack.
Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson summarised the prosecution’s case, saying on the evening of 17 August 2019, Daniel was playing pool at the Civic Pub with his partner and friends.
Tension had developed earlier in the night when the victim and his friends wanted to play pool at the table being used by Daniel’s group. Eventually, they started a game at the table next to it.
But when Daniel and the victim’s girlfriend were taking shots at their tables their pool cues got in the way of each other’s, tension escalated until the victim walked over to speak to Daniel’s girlfriend across a table.
Daniel, who was next to his victim, grabbed the front of the man’s shirt, punched him on the side of his face, then struck him in the throat area.
The man immediately fell to the ground unconscious. Daniel turned back to his group and finished his drink before he and his friends tried to leave.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson said the victim was taken to Canberra Hospital with life-threatening injuries and active resuscitation was needed to save his life.
He spent three days in an induced coma, seven in the intensive care unit and had to be admitted to the Liverpool Hospital Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit. In total, he was hospitalised for 75 days.
The man’s injuries included a severe traumatic brain injury, as well as post-traumatic amnesia that lasted for 38 days after the attack.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson said Daniel admitted he punched his victim in the head and pushed him in the throat or upper chest area.
In a judge-alone trial, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm. His defence team argued the issue was whether or not he had “the mental element” required for the charge.
His defence said prior to punching his victim he did not think about the possibility of causing harm and that he was surprised he had knocked his victim unconscious. He had said: “I didn’t expect that. I just expected him to go away from the situation.”
In an interview with police on the night of the assault, Daniel admitted he hit his victim, but said he felt he had to “out of self-defence”.
“I thought I was either going to get attacked or I was going to attack,” he told police.
“I don’t think I hit him ridiculously hard. I think I just [hit] him in the right spot”.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson sided with Daniel’s argument, saying she was not satisfied he “realised the possibility of really serious bodily injury occurring, as opposed to some injury”.
“On all the evidence I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was reckless as to inflicting grievous bodily harm,” she said.
She found him not guilty of reckless grievous bodily harm, but guilty of the statutory alternative of causing grievous bodily harm.
Sentencing will occur at a later date.