A soldier who has served in Australia’s special forces avoided spending time in jail when he was sentenced for a historical assault in which he fractured a man’s eye socket at a sleepover.
Benjamin Douglas Frith faced the ACT Supreme Court for sentencing on Friday (2 December) after he pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm, according to a recently released court judgement.
He had gone to a friend’s 30th birthday party on 24 October 2008 and was invited to sleep over along with some others who had travelled from Sydney.
When they were getting ready to go to sleep, the victim made some comments that Frith found offensive and Frith struck him in the face about four times.
The victim, a member of the Australian Defence Force along with his attacker, tried to defend himself by raising his hands but was hit twice more.
He received cuts to his face and a fracture to his eye socket, which required the insertion of a titanium plate.
Justice Michael Elkaim said the assault seemed unprovoked and the victim had been in a vulnerable position as he was initially unable to defend himself.
Frith, who lives in NSW, wrote a letter of apology and said his work in the Special Operations Command was likely to end due to his conviction.
“I think about the incident every day and I will forever be ashamed and sorry for my actions,” he said.
Members of the ADF and a diplomat gave positive character references for him.
“Clearly, the offender has, other than the offence, lived a good and productive life, devoted to his family and his work. I accept that he has expressed remorse for his actions,” Justice Elkaim said.
He said there had been a considerable delay in the case. The attack was in 2008. A warrant was issued for Frith’s arrest in 2012. When he became aware of the warrant, he handed himself into the Magistrates Court in 2021.
The prosecution said it accepted “the significant passage of time since the offending has allowed the offender to demonstrate that he is a person of otherwise good character and that he is able to live a law-abiding life”.
Justice Elkaim sentenced Frith to nine months’ jail, immediately suspended for a nine-month good behaviour order.
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