A man who assaulted a transgender woman at a Newtown pub has narrowly escaped prison time.
Alexis Ozanne is one of two men charged with assaulting Stephanie McCarthy at a Newtown pub.
He pleaded guilty to ‘affray’ and ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’, and was sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour bond plus 150 hours of community service. The sentencing magistrate warned Mr Ozanne that he was “perilously close to a gaol term”.
The other man, Nicholas Wells, is due to appear in Newtown Local Court on the 9th of February 2016.
On June 6 this year, CCTV captured Ms McCarthy walking passed the two men when one of them pulled her ponytail. McCarthy immediately confronted the men, but they blamed it on another patron.
Ms McCarthy then started prodding both men in the chest and grabbing them by the collar, before letting go. Mr Ozanne then punched her in the face, causing her to fall backward. Ozanne then punched her twice more.
Ms McCarthy then picked up a plastic schooner and charged at the men. Mr Wells grabbed her in a headlock, and a flurry of punches followed. Police papers allege that Mr Wells yelled threats, including:
“We’re going to stab you, you faggot. I’ll kick your faggot fucking teeth down your throat.”
Ms McCarthy sustained multiple injuries as a result of the incident, including a fractured eye socket.
Assault and Affray
Under section 93C of the NSW Crimes Act (‘the Act’), a person is guilty of ‘affray’ if they use or threaten unlawful violence towards another, and their conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for their personal safety,
The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.
Section 59 of the Act contains the offence of ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’, which is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment.
In order for an injury to amount to ‘actual bodily harm’, it must be more than ‘transient or trifling’ – a broken eye socket would certainly qualify. In fact, Mr Ozanne was fortunate not to be charged with causing ‘grievous bodily harm’ (very serious harm).
Good Behaviour Bonds
Magistrates and judges in NSW have a range of sentencing options at their disposal, including good behaviour bonds.
The Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 contains a range of good behaviour bonds, from bonds without criminal convictions under section 10(1)(b) and (c) to ‘suspended sentences’ under section 12. A breach of the latter carries a high risk of imprisonment.
Mr Ozanne received a bond under section 9, which carries a criminal conviction.
All section 9 bonds come with the following standard conditions:
(a) That the defendant must appear before the court if called upon to do so, and
(b) That the defendant must be of good behaviour (ie not commit any further offences during the period of the bond).
Courts can add additional conditions to section 9 bonds if they feel this is appropriate, including undergoing an anger management course, seeing a psychologist, not associating with certain people or going certain places, and so on.
Courts may also order supervision by Community Corrections, in which case the defendant must abide by their directions. This is called a ‘supervised bond’.
If the bond is breached by committing a further offence, the defendant can be called back to court and resentenced for the original offence. The fact that they were on a bond will also be seen as an ‘aggravating factor’ for the new offences.
In addition to the bond, Mr Ozanne was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service; which means that he must complete unpaid work within the next 12 months.
Ms McCarthy was furious about the perceived leniency of the sentence, posting on Twitter:
“Brutally bash a trans woman and you get 150 hours of community service. That’s what my life is worth.”
Mr Ozanne will need to be on his best behaviour for the next 18 months, or face the very real prospect of imprisonment.