24 February 2022

'Every parent's worst nightmare': stranger accused of strangling 11-year-old child

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

Anthony James Kenyon, 23, of Calwell, has been charged with assault and choking. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The allegations a stranger attacked an 11-year-old girl as she was riding her bike, dragged her off a path, sat on top of her and choked her into unconsciousness have been described by a magistrate as “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

Sporting a large, swollen black eye, 23-year-old Anthony James Kenyon from Calwell appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (24 February) where he denied being involved in the attack.

Court documents say the girl called her mother on Wednesday afternoon (23 February) to tell her she was going to ride her bike home. She cycled back through Fadden Pines in Fadden where she saw a man walking along a path while staring at her. Police allege it was Mr Kenyon.

She alleged he shoved her off her bike, making her hit her chin on the ground, then dragged her about three metres to the side of the path where he sat on her stomach, put his hands around her neck and squeezed for about 10 seconds.

The girl said she couldn’t breathe and thought she was going to die. She lost consciousness.

Around that time, a man was walking along the path. He alleged he saw Mr Kenyon appearing to hide in the trees before walking away. Thinking it was strange behaviour, the man looked around and saw the girl lying unconscious on the ground.

He approached to see if she was okay. She regained consciousness and screamed someone had choked her.

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Her father collected her and as they drove away from Fadden Pines, the girl saw Mr Kenyon near the Chisholm Shops. She told her father that he was the person who attacked her.

The father stopped the car, approached him and said, “Don’t touch my daughter”. The court documents allege the father assaulted Mr Kenyon, took his phone, which he later gave to police, and took a photo of him before leaving.

The girl had bruising on her chin, chest and neck, and scratches to her back and shoulders.

Mr Kenyon made complete denials to police, telling them he had been out walking near Fadden Pines but denied seeing the girl.

His lawyer, Andrew Byrnes of Andrew Byrnes Law Group, said his client would plead not guilty to charges of choking and assault and applied for him to be released on bail, providing several possible bail conditions.

He said his client had a history of mental health issues, including severe depression and anxiety, as well as a possible autism diagnosis.

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Also, Mr Byrnes said while the girl’s father may have assaulted Mr Kenyon, there remained the “unsettled question” of whether it was actually his client who attacked the girl.

Magistrate Beth Campbell said Mr Byrnes had done “as good as anybody could do in the circumstances” but refused bail.

She said the allegations were so serious and possibly opportunistic that bail conditions could not adequately protect anyone from the possibility of offending if he was released.

Mr Kenyon was remanded in custody to next appear in court on 7 April.

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