Accused will face a retrial
A DORRIGO man tried in court over a "reckless" punch, which left a Bellingen teenager with brain damage, has had his criminal conviction quashed.
Dallas Kahl, 29, who was last year found guilty by a jury of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to Bellingen man Jake Brook, 19, in the Coffs Harbour District Court, will undergo a retrial due to a judicial error.
Mr Kahl's defence successfully had the conviction overturned in the Criminal Court of Appeal after it was found the jury in the trial was mistakenly advised by Judge John Nicholson on the legal definition of "recklessness".
The court of appeal ruled: "His Honour directed the jury that the Crown must prove that the accused realised that his punch might cause "some form of bodily injury."
However, at his trial Mr Kahl claimed he acted in self defence without intent.
He told police after the fact the punch was a reflex action.
Mr Kahl's appeal against the verdict was upheld and the conviction quashed, due to the legal definition where to act "in recklessness" an offender must realise their actions might cause "grievous bodily harm" or "really serious injury".
The Criminal Court of Appeal noted the jury did not consider whether Mr Kahl had realised at the time the full consequences of his actions.
"In the alternative he said that the punch was an instinctive blow delivered without any intent," Mr Kahl's legal team noted.
The punch that Mr Kahl threw in the early hours of New Year's Day 2010 struck Mr Brook to the jaw and caused him to fall backwards and hit his head on the roadway.
Mr Brook, a former soldier, suffered serious head injuries and was left with permanent brain damage and the intellectual capacity of a young child.
After Mr Kahl was found guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, he was ordered in September last year to serve five years in jail with a non-parole period of three years.
That sentence has been overturned and a retrial in the district court will commence at a date to be set.