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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973

From The Courts

page 5

From The Courts

Photo of a court interior

Michael Thomas Murphy appeared in court recently on four charges of wilful damage and one of disorderly conduct. He was alleged to have thrown a paint bomb during the July 4 demonstration outside the American Independence Day Ball.

About 100 demonstrators were standing outside the Majestic Cabaret when a paint bomb hit one policeman's cap and splattered another's uniform and the clothes of two guests entering the ball.

Constable Mervin Theobald, a plain clothes detective, said that he moved about freely at the rear of the demonstrators. He said he saw Murphy pull an object out of his right pocket and lob it at the police and guests. He immediately approached Murphy and after a minor struggle put him into the police van.

Evidence was given by defence witnesses that Theobald had to push past people to reach Murphy, that the detective could not have had an unobstructed view, and that there was a hole so large in Murphy's greatcoat pocket that he could not have carried anything in it.

Theobald admitted that he had noticed the defendant in his dress prior to the arrest because he had earlier suspected that he was responsible for throwing fireworks. The description given was "long-haired and wearing a greatcoat." But one defence witness had counted eight people wearing army greatcoats in the crowd. Even Theobald admitted that there had been several.

Evidence was also given that paint bombs, fire crackers and other objects were being thrown constantly but it was impossible to ascertain where each was coming from.

The magistrate however ignored defence evidence in this case saying it was generally not reliable enough to refute or throw doubt on what Theobald said.

The magistrate obviously had more sympathy for the type of people who went to American Independence Day Balls. He said he was satisfied that the defendant threw the paint bomb and that it was conduct which would affront decent thinking people (calculated to annoy and insult.) He felt the reaction of one of the guests, Mrs Box, who burst in to tears after she found small splatters of paint on her dress showed this to be true.

He also held that all the damage was wilful because Murphy must have known that others would be affected. In conclusion he mouthed at Murphy: "If you have genuine causes you do nothing to advance them by this conduct."

Murphy was ordered to pay restitution for all clothing damaged ($151.21), fined $100 and $5 costs on the disorderly behaviour charge, and $25 and $5 costs on each of the four charges of wilful damage.