A Canberra man who drove at one victim before crashing his car into a tree, punched an elderly man walking down the street with his family and later repeatedly spat on a woman’s hair while they were on a bus, has pleaded guilty to three charges related to his rampage – assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and dangerous driving.
Carl Christopher Lyons, 29, pleaded guilty before Acting Justice Richard Refshauge, who recently published his ACT Supreme Court judgement over the matter. He singled out the spitting attack as “disgusting”.
“It was revolting behaviour, especially at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic when the virus appears to be transmissible by spitting,” he said.
He said the unopposed statement of facts shows the first victim was walking along a street in Braddon on an afternoon in September 2020 when Lyons drove a car directly at her causing her to hide behind a tree, but Lyons drove the car into the tree.
He drove off when she called for help from another person nearby, but he later approached and abused the person who helped her, even though a four-year-old child was present at the time.
The second victim, an 80-year-old man, was walking along a Braddon street with his wife, two grandchildren and a dog when Lyons approaching the group, yelling. He punched the man in the face.
He fell to the ground, hit his head and blacked out.
Lastly, Lyons went to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge bus stop, boarded a bus and sat behind his victim.
“He spat at the back of her head, and saliva landed on the back of her head, on the windowsill and the seat next to her,” Acting Justice Refshauge said.
“She got up and moved seats, but Mr Lyons then approached her and spat on her hair.
“The third victim noticed saliva on her hair and her jacket and the backpack that she was carrying.”
Lyons said he was heavily intoxicated when offending, recalling he drank “a few cans” and took drugs before beginning his rampage.
“He says that the reaction he had to the drugs was unusual, even for him. He has a suspicion that either the drugs or drinks were adulterated with some substance he does not usually take,” Acting Justice Refshauge said.
Acting Justice Refshauge accepted drugs were behind his actions, saying “that appears to have caused him to behave in the way that he did”.
He also said, “the continuing effect of his disadvantaged upbringing” had to be considered when it came to sentencing.
Lyons remained in custody for 78 days after his arrest and at his sentencing received a total of 24 months’ jail, suspended to complete a drug and alcohol treatment order that would end in September 2022.
He was also told to complete a nine-month residential program at Canberra Recovery Services.
“I have given you a chance which a lot of people would not have given you. You make use of it and do what you can,” Acting Justice Refshauge told Lyons.