5 July 2023

Murderer found guilty of affray charge laid after fight in central Canberra

| Albert McKnight
ACT Court

A teenager who has previously pleaded guilty to murder has been found guilty on another charge relating to a fight in Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The teenager who shot and killed Glenn Walewicz has been found guilty of an affray charge over his involvement in a fight in central Canberra that took place after he committed the murder.

The 19-year-old, who is legally unable to be identified, sat forward, hunched in his chair when he was pronounced guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court this week; however, he was also cleared of a more serious version of his charge.

On 10 June 2021, the then-17-year-old, Gary Taylor and a 12-year-old boy had gone to Mansfield Place in Phillip to steal drugs and cash from two drug dealers, but they went to the wrong home and knocked on the door of Mr Walewicz.

The teenager shot Mr Walewicz in the neck when he opened his door. The 48-year-old died shortly afterwards.

The teenager pleaded guilty to murder, while three others involved in the incident have also admitted to their respective roles and remain to be sentenced.

But before he was arrested for that crime, he was involved in a fight in Garema Place, Civic, late at night in May 2022.

He fought charges that stemmed from this incident at a Magistrates Court hearing which was heard in May of this year.

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It was alleged that he, aged 18 at the time, had been part of a group that had been attacking or threatening random people in the city area.

The court heard while it was accepted that he was in Garema Place, it was disputed whether he had engaged in violent and threatening behaviour.

However, a police officer who was called to the scene alleged to the court that he had seen the teenager throw someone to the ground and kick them in the head.

Earlier, a witness said he had been on “a night out with the boys”, and they were on their way to a concert when they saw “a few blokes stomping on some dude’s head on the ground”.

He said he went to see if the person was alright, but someone punched him in the face. His friend pushed a person off him, but then the pair got into a fight.

The witness said the two groups separated, and he and his friends were walking away when they turned and saw about five people running at them, throwing chairs.

Glenn Walewicz

Glenn Walewicz died in a shooting in June 2021. Photo: ACT Policing.

A fight broke out again and the witness said he saw a friend get knocked out on the ground before police arrived.

“At the time, all we wanted to do was protect ourselves and get out of the situation,” he said.

Another witness, a friend of the first one, said he had been worried the other group would “gang up on us”.

“I didn’t want myself or my friends to get hurt,” he said.

The police officer alleged that after he saw the teenager throw someone to the ground and kick them twice in the head, the teen had fled from him so he gave chase, ultimately tackling and using pepper spray on him.

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The officer claimed he hadn’t lost sight of the teen between when he saw him committing the alleged assault and when he arrested him.

“There were a lot of people around, but I had clear vision,” the officer said.

The officer did seem to accept the suggestion by the teen’s defence lawyer that there were a number of reasons why someone might run from police.

During the cross-examination, he also accepted that there was a lot of movement and people in the area at the time.

Special Magistrate Sean Richter returned to the Magistrates Court with his decision on Monday (3 July), finding the teenager not guilty of a count of affray with two or more people present, which was a more serious charge, but guilty of a backup charge of affray.

He did not read out the reasons for his decision and handed them in written documents to the lawyers in the court, which means it was not immediately clear to the public why he reached his conclusions.

He adjourned to later this month for a mention of the matter for the teenager to be sentenced in the future. The teen is being held in custody.

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