News Criminal Defence 8th Apr 2019

Sophia Dower Secures Acquittal of Teacher Accused of Assaulting 12 Year Old Girl in Road Rage Incident

Sophia represented the interests of Ms W, a teacher accused of assaulting a 12 year old girl in the context of a road rage incident. The alleged assault occurred after a collision between Ms W and the Complainant’s car which was being driven by her mother. It was alleged that Ms W pulled the Complainant by the hair so that she could attack the Complainant’s mother. The Crown relied on evidence from the Complainant in the form of an ABE interview, the Complainant’s mother and an independent eye witness, who all gave consistent evidence of Ms W pulling the child’s hair and acting aggressively towards the mother.

Ms W denied pulling the child’s hair and maintained throughout that she only flicked her hair in an effort to move the child away in self-defence. After extensive legal argument, Sophia successfully applied to exclude prosecution evidence of Ms W assaulting the Complainant’s mother after the hair pull on the basis Ms W was never charged with assaulting the mother. The Court agreed with both limbs of Sophia’s argument and excluded the evidence on the grounds it was irrelevant and prejudicial.

After a two-day trial in the Magistrates Court, and after lengthy cross examination of the young Complainant [over video-link and subject to numerous ground-rules], her mother and the eye witness, the Court acquitted Miss Williamson in less than an hour. The Court rejected the evidence that Ms W pulled the child’s hair and accepted Ms W’s account that she flicked the hair. The Court decided this hair flick was in lawful self defence.

Ms W was of previous good character with an exemplary disciplinary record as a teacher. Whilst the seriousness of the assault was low level, the potential repercussions of a conviction for assaulting a child were extremely serious.

Sophia was instructed by Jacob Smyth of Russell-Cooke Solicitors.

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