STATEMENT BY LAWYER FOR MR PAUL BELL, MR AARON KERNAGHAN, Solicitor.
Some clarification is needed… Mr Bell was not accused of engaging in a “cowardly act” and in fact the CCTV footage played to the court was remarkable in what it showed – my client doing nothing but being present at the second of two brawls (my client not being present or in a party previously). This is why he was charged with Affray and not Assault unlike the “three other men” who had been sentenced for their role in a more serious crime.
Little wonder then that the learned Magistrate imposed a good behaviour bond only and made such a distinction as he did between Mr Bell and the behaviour of the more serious co-accused. His Honour, Magistrate Stoddart found that some cowardly acts were committed by other persons and that may well be the case.
Mr Bell has been described as “relieved” – this pejorative description is unfortunate and may mislead.
For his part, Mr Bell was mortified by the injury to the fellow who was assaulted by others (who were charged with assault) who, we are given to understand, has made a full recovery. It may be presumed by some that people who are sentenced by a court in NSW are relieved for any number of reasons, but such assumptions aren’t necessarily accurate nor representative of the way in which criminal proceedings can involve insight, remorse and contrition.
Mr Bell is a bright young man and an exceptionally talented footballer who has no prior record and is by all accounts, a respected member of the local indigenous community. He is well-supported by a loving and caring family and is a fellow who will one day overcome any prejudicial judgements that may be made against him by some, perhaps because of the colour of his skin (perhaps not).
I’m pleased that Mr Bell was heard by a very just and contemplative court and my client was happy to have had his case heard in a manner that was fearless and accurate rather than sensationalised.
Solicitor for Mr Bell