Online videos spilled over from the social media application TikTok into a physical fight between two 16-year-old girls, a confrontation allegedly encouraged by one of their fathers before he grabbed his daughter’s opponent by the neck.
A hearing began against the 40-year-old man, who legally cannot be named, in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (4 July), during which his lawyer said he denied assaulting the complainant.
The court heard the complainant’s interview with police in which she said she had started spending time with the ex-boyfriend of the man’s daughter, which the daughter didn’t like.
She said the daughter started “making TikToks” about her, her appearance and her weight. A 17-year-old friend of the complainant later telling the court it amounted to online bullying.
The complainant stopped seeing the daughter’s ex-boyfriend, but she said the daughter “didn’t stop”.
In March 2022, she went to a late-night meet-up with her schoolmates in the north Canberra suburb of Taylor where she saw the daughter on the phone with someone. Ten minutes later a ute arrived and a man got out.
While she didn’t know the man, he was the daughter’s father.
The complainant said the daughter called her over so she approached, thinking she wanted to talk. But she said the daughter “[got] up in my face”, so she shoved her away.
She alleged the man yelled at his daughter “to swing at me”, which the girl did. The two “got into a bit of a tussle” before the daughter fell and pulled the complainant down with her.
“[Then the man] grabs me by the back of the neck like he’s trying to strangle me,” she claimed.
She later alleged she was “picked up by the back of the neck”.
Afterwards, the complainant claimed the man’s partner pulled her away, but the daughter kept trying to approach her. Then she left.
While it was happening, she alleged the man yelled, “kick her in the head, punch her, and just saying very rude and inappropriate things”.
She alleged she felt pressure on her neck for 20 seconds and was left with a scratch and bruises on that part of her body, with the 17-year-old friend saying the marks looked “like fingerprints”.
Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter summarised the allegations against the man by saying, “it appears there was a bit of a punch-up between kids” and when the man involved himself.
“That’s when the trouble started,” Magistrate Hunter said.
The man is fighting charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, incitement and driving while disqualified.
His lawyer, Darryl Perkins, said his client had “always disputed the charges” and the complainant had “a vendetta” against the man’s daughter.
“She progressed that vendetta by talking with her friends and telling lies,” he claimed.
While Mr Perkins admitted the man said words similar to “smash her”, he “didn’t intend that his daughter hurt the complainant, he was just worried about his daughter”.
He argued the alleged injury to the complainant’s neck didn’t amount to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and there was a real question about “who or what caused those marks”.
Also, he expected no witness would say they saw the man driving, just that some saw him get out of the driver’s side of the ute.
The hearing will continue later this year.