5 October 2021

'Cowardly' son drags elderly mother down hallway by her hair

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

A man has been jailed for an attack on his elderly mother. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A “cowardly” son unleashed horrific violence against his elderly mother, including dragging her along the ground by her hair before trying to crush her with his own body.

Court documents show the woman was walking through her Canberra home late one night in July 2021 when her 53-year-old son grabbed her by her hair, made her fall to the ground, repeatedly punched her in the head, then dragged her down the hallway while kicking her.

Her husband heard her screams and ran to their neighbours for help. A neighbour arrived to see the woman being attacked and heard her yell: “I am going to be killed. I am going to die.”

The neighbour yelled at the son to stop, but he lay on top of his mother in an attempt to crush her.

When the son was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (1 October), Magistrate Glenn Theakston said kicking someone when they were on the ground was a “particularly cowardly way to strike anyone”.

He said the attack involved a breach of trust on a particularly vulnerable person, the elderly mother, who gave a statement to the court saying she still suffered from pain due to her injuries as well as from the “grief involved in the loss of her son” as she no longer felt safe around him.

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Prosecutor Lillian James said he pulled his mother by the hair so hard she ended up with bruising to her scalp, which was “denigrating and controlling conduct”.

Also, she said his alcohol use could not mitigate his offending, as he already had three family violence-related convictions.

“He’s well on notice by this stage that when he consumes alcohol he is prone to unprovoked, inexplicable and fairly extreme violence,” she said.

Defence lawyer Georgina Meikle from Legal Aid said the life of the former legal professional, who had worked in industrial law, had unravelled over the past few years.

She said his relationship with his mother had been deteriorating, they had argued over an inheritance and he alleged he had been sexually abused as a child by a man known to them both.

He became particularly angry when she searched his room for documents relating to the inheritance, she said.

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However, Magistrate Theakston said these were not excuses for offences of this gravity.

“It’s one thing to become upset, it’s another thing to lash out against anyone, especially your mother,” he said.

“I suspect the relationship will never be quite the same.”

The son pleaded guilty to assault. He was sentenced to nine months’ jail, to be suspended after six months, so he will be released in January 2022.

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