TWO men who beat a Perth bowls club cleaner “to within an inch of his life” after they saw him chasing a teenage burglar used gratuitous violence to mete out their vigilante justice, prosecutors say.
Brett Christopher O’Dea and Jacob Jefferson Webb were charged with grievous bodily harm with intent over the early-morning attack on the 33-year-old man in Manning in January 2018.
The victim suffered skull, face and ankle fractures, and a traumatic brain injury.
He spent seven weeks in hospital and now lives in a residential rehabilitation facility, suffering significant cognitive and communication impairments, and is unable to work or drive.
Defence counsel for O’Dea, Melissa Louw, told the District Court of WA on Monday her client was woken by piercing screams then heard the 18-year-old female burglar saying she had been raped.
He ran out into the street with Webb following, and responded in a manner he felt was appropriate at the time, believing he was acting lawfully to protect a young girl, she said.
“He believed a crime was being committed,” Ms Louw said.
Prosecutor Chung-Wai Chu said the law did not allow vigilante justice.
“What they did was so excessive and unreasonable it cannot be justified,” Mr Chu said.
“They beat up a defenceless man because they felt entitled to punish him.
“The violence used in this case was simply gratuitous.”
The pair didn’t give the victim a chance to explain himself and continued the attack even after they saw the young thief rifle through his pockets, Mr Chu said.
He said O’Dea lied when police interviewed him, claiming he hit the cleaner relatively lightly with a plastic toy-like broomstick, despite CCTV footage clearly showing he used a hockey stick.
Both men claimed the victim injured himself falling over while trying to run away.
Webb’s lawyer declined to give an opening address.
The trial continues.