Barilaro Charged Over Altercation with Cameraman

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Barilaro Charged Over Altercation with Cameraman

Former Deputy New South Wales Premier John Barilaro has been charged with criminal offences over a late-night altercation with a media crew last month in the Sydney suburb of Manly.

The clash

The incident occurred when a Channel Seven cameraman approached Mr Barilaro to ask about the controversy surrounding his appointment to a lucrative New York trade post.

Mr Barilaro had resigned from the position by that time, but his appointment remained the subject of an independent inquiry which determined earlier this month that the recruitment process was ‘flawed’.

When approached, Barilaro initially dismissed the reporter’s questions, saying: ‘It’s a night out mate, it’s all good’, before the incident turned violent.

The former politician is seen to then repeatedly swipe at two cameramen before his new girlfriend, Jennifer Lugsdin, attempts to grab the expensive equipment.

The aftermath

The next day, Mr Barilaro told the media he had a “camera shoved in his face” which he pushed out of the way, denying any “manhandling” of the cameraman.

The cameraman’s lawyers, on the other hand, report that the camera was damaged to the point it is now inoperable, and that Barilaro’s conduct caused their client’s back to be twisted and injured, asserting that their freelancer client has been unable to work since the incident.

They are seeking damages for property damage as well as injury and inability to work.

Criminal charges

Police seized footage of the incident which they said they would be investigating and yesterday, they charged Mr Barilaro with one count each of common assault and intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property.

He will face Manly Local Court in October.

No stranger to disagreements with the media

It’s certainly not the first time Mr Barilaro has had negative interactions with the media.

His defamation suit against Friendlyjordies presenter Jordan Shanks was settled In November 2021, with Mr Shanks issuing a public apology, amending the videos to delete the allegedly defamatory content and paying Mr Barilaro $100,000 in legal costs.

Mr Barilaro also won more than $700,000 in costs in a suit against Google (the owners of YouTube) because videos produced by the Friendlyjordies were not taken down in a timely manner.

The offence of common assault

Common assault is an offence under section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements (or ingredients):

  1. That you caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful violence, or that you made physical contact with another person, and
  2. That the other person did not consent, and
  3. That your actions were intentional or reckless.

In other words, you must have intentionally or recklessly caused another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence, or touched, struck or otherwise applied physical force to another person without legal justification. The cannot be a mere omission.

Where the assault is physical, any injury caused must be no more than ‘transient or trifling’; in other words, very minor.

If it is more serious, another assault charge will be more appropriate; such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Malicious damage is now known as intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging property

Malicious damage is no longer a specific offence in New South Wales – it has been replaced by intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging property which is an offence under section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 that carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison if the case is serious enough to be referred to the District Court, or 2 years if it remains in the Local Court.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. You destroyed or damaged property,
  2. The property belonged to another person, and
  3. You intended to cause the destruction or damage or were reckless as to whether your actions would cause the destruction or damage.

Your were ‘reckless’ if you foresaw that your conduct could cause damage or destruction to the property but went ahead with your actions regardless.

Defences to the charges

In the event that you are able to raise evidence of a legal defence to a charge of common assault or destroy or damage property, the prosecution must then disprove that defence beyond a reasonable doubt.

If it is unable to do so, you are entitled to an acquittal; in other words, a verdict of not guilty.

Legal defences to criminal charges include:

  1. Self-Defence,
  2. Duress, and
  3. Necessity.

Going to court over an altercation?

If you have been involved in an altercation and are going to court as a result, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first appointment with an experienced, specialist criminal defence lawyer who will advise your options, the best way forward and fight for the optimal outcome.

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.
Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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