Darwin man assaulted mate when ‘things started to go wrong’ after suspected Aboriginal curse
Darwin man assaulted mate when ‘things started to go wrong’ after suspected Aboriginal curse

Mate’s Outback ‘curse’ led to assault, court told

A "PARANOID" Territorian punched his mate in the head because he believed his life had been ruined by an Aboriginal curse, a court has heard.

Robert Carlous Manning, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in Darwin Local Court last week, a charge stemming from what his lawyer Matt Hubber said was a punch-up with "somewhat unusual" circumstances.

Mr Hubber said Manning's victim, Tyler Darlow, was among a group of mates who went on a road trip to Alice Springs, during which Mr Darlow souvenired a rock from Devils Marbles.

"Mr Manning says that from the moment they arrived in Alice Springs, things started to go wrong," he said.

"He believes that the taking of that rock caused him and his friends no end of bad luck and trouble.

"That was what caused Mr Manning to go in and attack Mr Darlow."

Mr Hubber said the souvenired rock had been discarded somewhere near Alice Springs.

Prosecutor Tim Smith said he had "a view" about the rock, and it was a common belief that souveniring rocks from the Outback could result in a spell of bad luck.

He said there was store room near Uluru filled with rocks people had souvenired, "99 per cent" of which had been posted back by people who had "as far as they can determine", been afflicted by a curse.

"I don't think there's been a proper study as to the ills which have befallen these people," Mr Smith said.

Judge John Neill said he would be happy to discuss theories about ancient curses "over a beer", but that magic spells were not something that needed to be discussed in court.

"I know that many people are superstitious … but I don't know why I have to put up with hearing about it," he said.

He said he might have been more willing to accept that a traditional Aboriginal person believed in a curse related to a sacred site, but Manning, who is half-Malaysian, seemed to just be paranoid.

Mr Smith said he "didn't intend to turn this (court hearing) into a farce" but said he "seriously doubted" Manning's ability to track down the missing rock in order to return it and lift the supposed curse.

He said Manning and Mr Darlow had reconciled since the January 2017 attack.

Mr Hubber said believing someone had left you cursed was not a lawful reason to assault someone.

Manning also pleaded guilty to leading police on a high-speed pursuit through Palmerston while on his L-plates in March last year, during which he reached speeds of up to 130km/h.

Manning will be sentenced in February

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