Justin James Blackman with defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service outside the Gladstone Courthouse as they await the jury's verdict.
Justin James Blackman with defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service outside the Gladstone Courthouse as they await the jury's verdict. Sarah Steger

Man who smashed woman's head into steps locked up

BLINKING away tears, Justin James Blackman's head sunk lower and lower with each guilty verdict the jury standing in front of him declared, until his head rested in shaking hands.

For over an hour, the 36-year-old's muffled cries were audible from behind a glass barrier, separating him from the rest of Gladstone District Court on Tuesday.

After the two-day trial by jury concluded, it was up to Judge Michael Burnett to determine how severe of a sentence the three counts of assault/domestic against Blackman warranted.

The court heard in the early evening of February 25, the aggrieved arrived at Blackman's Barney Point home after he called her more than 100 times - a number defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand told the jury was grossly exaggerated.

"He (Blackman) accepts he called her (the aggrieved) about 20 times ... He was anxious to call about their relationship," Mr Ahlstrand said.

Sitting in a separate room from the defendant and appearing by live video link during the trial, the aggrieved told the court she and Blackman "were off" at the time the offences happened, despite having been in a two-year relationship in the past.

The court heard while no words were exchanged directly after the aggrieved arrived, Blackman soon asked her to get him drugs and "help (him) get on".

When she refused, things escalated into a verbal argument during which the defendant later admitted he called the aggrieved selfish, saying she never did anything for him.

Prosecutor Alexandra Baker, who appeared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the aggrieved hurriedly left the home and proceeded down the street at a brisk walk/run pace.

Pursuing her, Blackman shoved the aggrieved to the ground, causing her to graze her left elbow and hip and a tear in her black shirt.

Before the verdict was delivered, Mr Ahlstrand told the jury the aggrieved was merely "touched" on the shoulder before she fell.

"He didn't mean for her to fall," he said.

Photos of three parallel scratches on the aggrieved's neck /chest area, a consequence of the defendant raking his fingernails across the aggrieved's skin, were also submitted during the trial.

The court heard the defendant then locked the aggrieved into a choke-hold with his arm around her neck, tugging and dragging her some six metres back toward the home.

Once he reached the top of a set of stairs, he pushed the aggrieved's head down, smashing it onto a step two or three times.

 

Justin James Blackman with defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service outside the Gladstone Courthouse as they await the jury's verdict.
Justin James Blackman with defence lawyer Jordan Ahlstrand of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service outside the Gladstone Courthouse as they await the jury's verdict. Sarah Steger

But holding up a picture of the aggrieved's bruised forehead to demonstrate how minor in nature her resulting injuries were, the defence tried to sway the jury into believing his client's version of events instead.

"Wouldn't you expect more serious injuries than that ?" he asked the jury.

Ms Baker disagreed, however, saying the aggrieved's knees and hands were on the stairs after being pushed, allowing her to resist the defendant.

"She braced for the fall. It's instinct ... It explains why her head wasn't cracked open," she said.

Ms Baker said police arrived a few minutes later to find the defendant puffing and "profusely sweating".

The court heard Blackman was a former Bechtel worker at Curtis Island but had injured his right arm two years ago, limiting his range of movement and requiring him to wear a sling.

It was this sling - black in colour and decorated in a white skull and crossbones pattern, that Blackman wore to court this week.

And it was this same sling which Mr Ahlstrand focussed on during his address to the jury, claiming his client could not have dragged the aggrieved backwards six metres because his injured arm was in the sling.

"It's implausible", he said.

He instead claimed his client had tried to help the aggrieved up after she fell to the ground before walking back to the home together - a version of the events the jury did not accept.

He said when they were close to the top step, the aggrieved suddenly stopped and turned to face the defendant, causing them both to fall down.

But Blackman wasn't wearing the sling when police arrived - a fact his lawyer attributed to the "significant time (available to) him to remove it", from when the triple zero call was made to the arrival of police.

Blackman was sentenced to 15 months, six months and 18 months imprisonment for the three offences, with parole eligibility on July 23, 2018.



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