29 August 2022

'Don't crush his spirit': Lawyer argues for teen behind 'prolonged, violent and savage' assault not to receive jail sentence

| Claire Fenwicke
Jamie Barry

Jamie Mitchell Barry, 18, will be sentenced on 30 September over an assault from earlier this year. Photo: Facebook.

A teenager who repeatedly kicked and punched his victim in the head should not spend anymore time in jail, his lawyer has argued, because it would “crush his spirit”.

CCTV of the assault had previously been shown to the court, showing 18-year-old Jamie Mitchell Barry stomping on his victim when he was on the ground and throwing him onto the road outside a Dunlop home where a party was taking place on 26 March.

The victim was at one stage knocked unconscious by a roundhouse kick to the head and was left alone without any help for at least 83 seconds.

When the victim regained consciousness and was crawling away, Barry squatted behind him and simulated sexually assaulting the victim by repeatedly thrusting his groin at the victim’s buttocks. He also ordered the victim to strip naked and stole his phone.

Barry had targeted his victim because the 18-year-old believed the other man was involved in criminal proceedings against his friend.

Throughout the CCTV footage, other young men at the party could be seen laughing and filming the assault on their phones.

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As part of pre-sentencing submissions at the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (23 August), Barry’s lawyer Alyn Doig said his client had expressed “great shock and shame” over his actions, but argued the offending was likely to have been heightened by a “wolf pack idea”.

“He wasn’t there drinking by himself … some of the [other] people were pissed out of their minds, it would appear,” Mr Doig said.

“It’s amazing what you can do when your blood’s up.”

Mr Doig argued Barry needed appropriate anger management and one-on-one counselling, which couldn’t be offered at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), and asked for his client not to be given a jail sentence.

“The reality is you can’t buy a course when on remand … you have to wait until a spot is available,” he said.

“The AMC is not CIT or a school where you can pick and choose … now is the time to rehabilitate him properly.”

Mr Doig said Barry had acknowledged the victim didn’t deserve to be “dealt with in the way he was dealt with” but argued his age should also be considered by the magistrate when his sentence was handed down.

He said as Barry was still 18, he needed to have hope for the future.

“He had a plan … [but] after that night it all went to sh*t,” Mr Doig said.

“For someone just 18 years of age and it’s his first time in custody, trying to look forward is a very difficult thing.

“He asks to be given the opportunity to show the rest of the world … that he has turned the corner.”

Mr Doig acknowledged Barry would need to be placed under supervision if he were released.

He also said Barry had a girlfriend who was standing by him, which gave him “some hope”.

“She’s told him if this happens again, I’m out of here … that’s a protective factor,” Mr Doig said.

“[If he stays in jail, he] faces a very sad existence. If his spirit is crushed … and he comes out with no hope, I fear Your Honour will be seeing him again.

“Don’t crush his spirit.”

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However, prosecutor Sam Bargwanna argued against an intensive corrective order (ICO), suggesting a non-parole period was more appropriate.

Mr Bargwanna argued the assault was “prolonged, violent and savage” and that Barry “relentlessly pursued the victim”.

While he described the injuries suffered by the victim as “not the worst case”, the level of violence meant the injuries could have been far worse.

“This case was one of retribution,” Mr Bargwanna said.

“At the moment, what is clear from the ICO report is the offender still has some behavioural issues.”

Mr Bargwanna said the prosecution’s case was “overwhelmingly strong” and that such behaviour needed to be “deterred at the highest level”.

“He hasn’t necessarily [demonstrated] … the underlying criminal factors that fuelled this offending have been addressed.”

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Magistrate James Stewart said it was “extraordinary” the victim had been left “unattended and unconscious for so long” and that would be a mitigating factor when considering his sentence.

He told Barry he was “right to be ashamed” of his behaviour.

“I’m shocked by the level of brutality and group violence,” Magistrate Stewart said.

“[However] you’re a very young man … the court should be trying to promote the rest of your life rather than trying to crush it.”

He warned Barry to control his behaviour in AMC, and asked for an updated pre-sentence report to see whether Barry’s behaviour in custody improved in the next month.

Barry previously pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, act of indecency, intentional threat to kill, robbery, and reprisal against a person involved in a legal proceeding.

He has spent more than four months in custody and was due to be sentenced on 30 September.

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