NOT GUILTY: Daniel Earney.
NOT GUILTY: Daniel Earney.

Man on assault charge 'not guilty'

A JURY has found Daniel Earney not guilty of bashing a man on a park bench in Bundaberg.

During the one-day District Court trial, Mr Earney's defence barrister Stephen Kissick told the jury it was "a who dunnit” - a case that depended on identification of the person who punched Matthew Howlett.

Mr Earney, 30, successfully maintained his innocence of the charge that on February 23 last year he assaulted and caused bodily harm to Mr Howlett, 30, when in company.

Central to the case was the Crown's allegation that a man named Chris Martin had previously made verbal threats to Mr Earney.

Following his release from jail after nearly three years, Mr Howlett, a labourer, began visiting his sister at a residential complex in East Bundaberg.

In her case outline, Crown prosecutor Melissa Wilson told the jury a man named Chris Martin had previously yelled at Mr Howlett that he didn't want him "hanging around my kids” and sent messages to him to stay away from the flats.

WITNESS: Gary Anderson.
WITNESS: Gary Anderson.

After again visiting his sister, Mr Howlett later went and sat on a nearby park bench when at 3.30pm he alleged he heard two people approaching from bushes.

Ms Wilson said one man said to Mr Howlett: "You were told what would happen if you come back”, and was then punched in the face by a male.

"He initially thought Chris Martin was the man who punched him but later identified Mr Earney,” she said.

"He (Mr Howlett) fell to the ground and staggered to his car and two males followed him, one shouting abuse.

"He got into his car, drove off and phoned police.”

Mr Howlett was treated at hospital for serious facial fractures and underwent surgery.

In evidence Mr Howlett told the court that a man, Chris Martin, became aggressive toward him at the unit complex, "he wanted to fight me and stuff because of me being there”.

"I had enough of him trying to bully me,” he said.

VICTIM: Matthew Howlett.
VICTIM: Matthew Howlett.

"He messaged me (Facebook), threatening messages. He said to me stay away and if I had a problem with it he'd tell all the local Bundy boys and get them onto me.”

Mr Howlett said he took no notice as a man approached him at the park bench until he spoke "saying stuff, I warned you what would happen if I came here again”.

"I asked him who he was and I started getting punched. There was a second male not saying anything, wearing a hoody”.

Three days later police showed Mr Howlett two photo boards, he did not identify a man Chris Martin.

He identified Daniel Earney.

Mr Howlett, while cross-examined by Mr Kissick, said he'd never spoken before to Mr Earney and had told police he believed the person who hit him had been Chris Martin.

"You didn't recognise Chris Martin (on photo boards),” Mr Kissick asked.

"No,” he replied.

"They (police) told me they'd gotten someone.

"How did you miss Chris Martin,” asked Mr Kissick.

"When you get traumatised you get a bit muddled up,” Mr Howlett replied. Witness Gary Anderson, 52, told the jury he recognised Mr Earney as one of two men following behind Mr Howlett in the park after he heard yelling while working on his car.

"Get your shit and get the f*** out of here,” he said.

"The man yelling was Daniel Earney. I see him most days. He had no shirt on. He (Mr Earney) was the one yelling out to the fella staggering back to the car.

"I'm certain. One hundred percent.”

When the jury retired to consider its verdict after consideration of all evidence before the court, its not guilty verdict was returned less than half an hour later.



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