By KIERAN FINNANE
For two separate drunken assaults on two women and breaches of the domestic violence orders that were supposed to protect them, Liam Jurrah was today sentenced to nine months in gaol, to be suspended after four with conditions.
Right: Liam Jurrah leaving court during his 2013 trial, which ended with not guilty verdict. PHOTO from our archive.
Magistrate Sarah McNamara said that while the offending was serious, 26-year-old Mr Jurrah was young for sentencing purposes and should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate.
The assaults put him in breach of the conditions of a suspended sentence for similar offending against one of the victims. The balance of two months was restored, to be served concurrently.
Any conviction in the next 12 months of an offence punishable by imprisonment or any breach of conditions of today’s sentence, on conviction, will lead to the balance of the full nine months being restored.
The conditions include a 12 month ban on drinking; entering residential rehab upon release; while in rehab wearing an electronic monitoring device; undertaking a family violence program or similar; remaining within the NT for the 12 months but staying out of Alice Springs unless with specific permission from his probation or parole officer.
The sentence is backdated to July 10, so he will leave gaol in the second week of November.
The first assault, on June 16 this year, was against his former partner. He was intoxicated at the time and got a lift to her home in Hermannsburg. He went there at her invitation, according to the instructions he gave to his lawyer, despite being aware of the full no contact order against him.
He asked her to go with him to the basketball court, where they ended up having an angry verbal argument and he punched her, with a clenched right fist to the face.
Her face was partly protected by the hood of the jacket she was wearing, said police prosecutor Sergeant Haig.
Mr Jurrah also kicked her in the back, causing pain in the rib cage area. He was shouting at her in Warlpiri but stopped and left the scene when a witness told him to. The victim later complained to police.
According to his lawyer, Shawanah Tasneem, Mr Jurrah handed himself into police, after making contact with her office for advice on what he should do. However, he declined to answer police questions, or take part in a record of interview, said Sgt Haig.
Less than one month later on July 11, Mr Jurrah, again drunk, went to the home of his then partner, mother of his infant son. Both of them were named as protected persons in a DVO, specifying no contact if he was intoxicated.
The prosecutor said that he yelled at the victim to come home with him, then jumped the fence and punched her to the face. When she tried to run away, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her towards the gate. The victim struck out at him. He smashed a beer bottle to create a jagged edge and tried to strike her with it. Other people stepped in. He then took a steel-framed chair and succeeded in striking her, causing an eight centimetre laceration to the back of her head.
The end might have been a lot worse if police hadn’t arrived and arrested Mr Jurrah, said Sgt Haig.
Ms Tasneem said Mr Jurrah had been told by the victim the day before that she wanted no further contact with him, and this would include no contact with his son. According to her instructions, Ms Tasneem said the victim had also struck him in the face. He was greatly upset, particularly by the possibility of losing contact with his son.
This was the context of the offending; it was not put by way of excuse. Ms Tasneem said there can be “no excuse to resort to violence.”
She said Mr Jurrah, in pleading guilty today, was accepting his responsibility for the offending.
She accepted that the June offence would incur a mandatory minimum three month sentence as a subsequent domestic violence offence.
Because the July offence was more serious, involving a weapon, it would be up to the court to determine whether it would be treated as a Level 5 offence, incurring a mandatory minimum 12 month sentence.
In a case heard earlier today of subsequent domestic violence offending where the injuries were serious, Magistrate McNamara had accepted that it was Level 5 and sentenced a man to 12 months
In Mr Jurrah’s case, in relation to the July victim, Ms McNamara found, on the basis of brief medical evidence provided by the prosecution, that the injuries did not interfere with the integrity of the victim’s body or her bodily functions.
Ms Tasneem had pointed out that the victim, while sad and upset, had said, “I don’t think my life will change.”
Sgt Haig had told the court the victim wanted Mr Jurrah to go to gaol and to receive treatment.
Members of Mr Jurrah’s family were in court to support him. Ms Tasneem also provided the court with a letter of support from the CEO of Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation, a past employer of Mr Jurrah (prior to his AFL drafting in 2008). When he has served his time and other orders, WYDAC is willing to have him back and work with him on his alcohol and anger management issues.
Jurrah gets nine months suspended after four
By KIERAN FINNANE