FORMER Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard came out swinging after being acquitted of an assault charge against his former Kingsley neighbour.
He criticised the police for being “easily fooled” by the “embellished statements of facts” and said he was “rather disturbed to see how easily the judicial system can be manipulated”.
“I stand here after working collaboratively with the police service for some 15 years with absolutely no respect or confidence in the WA Police service,” he said outside Joondalup Magistrate’s Court.
“I’ve seen firsthand how corrupt the culture of the WA Police service is and I encourage all West Australians if they feel bullied, intimidated or threatened by the WA Police service or their officers to stand up for their rights and ensure those who may enforce the law are not above the law.”
He said he had “always asserted” his plea of not guilty and he was “delighted with the outcome after a 15-month saga”.
“The truth has finally been heard and I’m delighted I stood up for my rights and challenged the process,” he said.
Mr Pickard returned to court on Monday following a one-day trial on March 18 where we was accused of common assault after throwing coffee on his former neighbour Mark Wild on January 14, 2018.
Mr Wild said he came home that evening to find Mr Pickard had washed dirt onto his driveway, alleging it went as far up as onto his bins and boat.
He went to get his own pressure hose and started to clean his driveway by hosing the dirt back onto Mr Pickard’s driveway.
Insults and swearing were exchanged leading to a water fight along the boundary line of their properties.
However, the assault charge related to Mr Pickard throwing a cup of coffee at Mr Wild’s face.
Mr Pickard said it was a “natural instinct” to flick the coffee at Mr Wild, saying his neighbour first sprayed him in the face with his pressure hose.
After hearing evidence from Mr Wild and his wife Kylie Wild, and Mr Pickard during the trial, Magistrate Jennifer Hawkins said she needed more time to watch the CCTV footage from outside Mr Wild’s home to determine if Mr Pickard had been provoked.
She told the court on Monday she watched the footage by slowing it down and also frame-by-frame given it came down to only one second of vision, which was obscured by Mr Wild’s boat.
She said this was problematic because it did not show Mr Pickard or Mr Wild’s hands.
She said at the start of the frame at 26 seconds, Mr Wild’s left hand could be seen holding the handle of the hose and at 27 seconds, the hose could be seen but not the wand.
“The hose appears to move quickly in a forward direction,” Ms Hawkins said.
“And Mr Wild’s head moves backwards when the coffee comes across his face.”
She said the motion of the hose seemed to match “to some extent” what Mr Pickard said.
Ms Hawkins said while she did not believe Mr and Mrs Wild were lying, and she agreed there was “substantial dirt and debris” on their driveway when they returned home, their evidence was unreliable.
However, she also questioned Mr Pickard’s reasoning that substantial rain was expected, which would wash the dirt off Mr Wild’s driveway, saying if that was the case, why did he not leave his own driveway for the rain to clean.
She said it was also difficult to accept Mr Pickard’s evidence given the “significant animosity” between the neighbours and his “provocative actions”, and so she could only go by the CCTV footage.
Ms Hawkins gave the definition of assault and said Mr Wild’s actions of staying outside for “some considerable time” after the coffee was thrown was “not consistent” with his description of being blinded and there was some dispute as to how hot the coffee was so she was “not satisfied it amounted to assault”.
She also gave the definition of provocation and said a person cannot be held criminally responsible if they are provoked to be “deprived of self-control” and it is of a similar force.
She said the coffee was a liquid, like water, but it was not pressurised and Mr Pickard had said it was “lukewarm”.
While Ms Hawkins said Mr Pickard’s actions were “rude and reprehensible” and “un-neighbourly”, she said the prosecution was not able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and determined he be acquitted.
Mr Pickard’s lawyer requested he be awarded costs of $5500, which Ms Hawkins granted.
Outside court, Mr Pickard thanked his “family and supporters in the community that extended their friendship and support to me over the last 15 months” and to his legal counsel Terry Dobson “for the manner in which he skilfully defended my position”.
He then faced questions from the media on his now-closed Bucking Bull food outlets.
He said a report on Channel 7 on Sunday night was “not accurate” and it was a private matter where he would be working with those involved.
“I’m not concerned about the view of one individual who is a disgruntled employee, I’m worried about the main,” he said.
Mr Pickard, who is the Franchise Fusion managing director, is due in the Perth District Court next month for the civil matter.
Franchise Fusion has the WA rights for Bucking Bull, with 11 still operating in Perth, and is the franchisor for Primal Pantry, which has three stores in the Perth CBD.
In a statement, Mr Pickard said the “embellished” report “highlighted the plight of food and beverage operators in Perth’s strained retail climate and the serious in-balance between landlords and tenants within Perth’s major shopping centres”.
“Over the past 12 months, Franchise Fusion has regrettably closed three company-operated Bucking Bull stores due to exorbitant rent and low pedestrian volumes,” he said.
“With outstanding rent in the process of being challenged between the relevant trading company and the respective landlords, all staff and suppliers for the three company outlets have or are in the final process of being paid.
“Some employees are yet to receive some of their superannuation payments and Franchise Fusion is currently working with the Australian Taxation Office to address this issue.”
WA Police declined to comment.