Soldier love triangle ‘behind’ alleged assault

A  JEALOUS feud between two groups of Australian ­soldiers was behind a violent clash at the Darwin Waterfront which left one of the men with a broken jaw, a court has heard.

 

ADF member Tory Staff arrives at court to fight assault charges relating to a clash with two other army members at the Darwin Waterfront on AFL Grand Final day in 2017. Picture: Keri Megelus
ADF member Tory Staff arrives at court to fight assault charges relating to a clash with two other army members at the Darwin Waterfront on AFL Grand Final day in 2017. Picture: Keri Megelus

Australian Defence Force members Tory Staff, 24, and Colan Coleman, 20, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to assault and causing serious harm.

The pair is facing trial for the alleged attack on army truck drivers Jordan Clark and Sean Hanson as the two groups returned to their cars in the Waterfront carpark after last year's AFL Grand Final.

In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Tami ­Grealy said Staff repeatedly punched Mr Clark to the head as he prepared to get out of the building's elevator.

She said while Coleman didn't throw a punch at Mr Clark, he stood and watched before preventing Mr Hanson from coming to his aid.

Both Staff and Coleman then allegedly punched Mr Hanson in the head.

"The Crown says that both accused recognised Jordan Clark and acted in a deliberate way in the context of an ­ongoing dispute between their friendship groups over a girl," Ms Grealy said.

In giving evidence, Mr Clark said he did not know either of the co-accused before entering the elevator but later heard the two co-accused were "associates" of another ADF member and one-time love rival, Harry Lowth.

In cross examination, Staff's barrister, Jon Tippett QC, said there was "bad blood" between Mr Clark's group of friends and Mr Lowth's friends over separate relationships the men had had with the same woman.

"There certainly was tension arising from this situation where the relationship between Mr Lowth and (the woman) had broken down and you had taken up with (her) for a period," Mr Tippett said.

"Your relationship with (the woman) was seen as an interference with Mr Lowth's ­relationship with (her), is that right?"

Mr Clark accepted that there was tension in the love triangle, but not that it ­extended to the two men's friendship groups or that it was present in the lift on the ­afternoon in question.

"I didn't recognise any tension at all," he said.

"The tension would have been just between us three - any other tension I wouldn't recognise."

Mr Hanson was next to take the stand, telling the court he did not know Coleman or Staff prior to boarding the lift either, but recognised them as fellow soldiers by their distinctive haircuts.

He said he exited the lift first and came back to help after he heard his friend being attacked.

"He was just getting repeatedly hit and there was no letting up," he said.

The trial continues.



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