Queensland Magistrate’s family cleared of assault
THE husband and son of a Queensland Magistrate have been found not guilty of bashing their neighbour with a shovel handle following a longstanding neighbourhood spat.
Magistrate Catherine Pirie's husband and son - David and Lachlan Pirie - were on trial in the Brisbane District Court for the assault of neighbour Jennifer Toohey while armed and in company at their Gold Coast property on February 14 last year.
They both pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm at the start of their nine-day trial and were this evening acquitted of all charges.
The jury retired for about seven hours before delivering their verdict.
Lachlan, then 18, was also alleged to have thrown rocks that struck Mrs Toohey and charged with common assault over incident.
He was also found not guilty of the additional charge.
During the trial, the court heard the dispute between the Piries and their neighbours, the Toohey's, began "with somewhat of a neighbourhood scandal" but "finished with a middle-aged woman being badly beaten by a man who thought he was above the law".
However, Mr Pirie argued Mrs Toohey was trespassing on his land and about to punch him when he struck her.
He said he feared she was being followed by a "wild mob" of her family.
The jury believed Mr Pirie's evidence that there had been a two-year orchestrated campaign by the Toohey's against his family, including the playing of loud violent rap music as various members of the Toohey family drove their cars down a road outside the Pirie home at Tallai.
Lachlan Pirie's barrister Alastair McDougall told the jury during the trial Lachlan Pirie did not throw rocks and hit Jennifer Toohey in the back.
"He did not aid his father in striking Mrs Toohey, he did not encourage his father to strike Mrs Toohey," Mr McDougall said.
The crown argued Mr Pirie believed he was "above the law" and believed his "unarmed, five foot tall" female neighbour "deserved a beating", before he hit her with a shovel handle, a court has heard.
However, the jury disagreed.
David Pirie grabbed his son by the arm when the verdict was delivered and the pair walked free from court this evening.