Impede breathing charge discontinued; spent conviction imposed for remaining charge

This case involved a client originally charged with two offences. The first, impede another person’s normal breathing, also known as ‘strangulation’. The second, aggravated common assault. The offences arose from an incident involving the client and two other males in the surf at a popular Perth surfing location. The allegation was that the client, after being ‘dropped in’ on by the complainant’s son, then put the complainant in a headlock. The fight was broken up but then allegedly continued later on when the parties returned to the beach.

On review of the evidence, it was apparent that there was little support for the charge of strangulation. Firstly, the witness accounts did not match footage of the evidence. Secondly, even if the headlock was able to be proved, there were issues regarding whether this amounted to strangulation in the legal sense, and also regarding the defence of self-defence.

We presented a persuasive submission which recommended that the strangulation charge be discontinued in exchange for a guilty plea to the common assault. The submission was accepted. At sentencing, we were able to successfully argue for a spent conviction order to be imposed. This fantastic outcome meant that the client was able to move on from this unfortunate incident without the deleterious effects of a conviction hanging over them for the next ten years.

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