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  • January 25, 2018

A Few Quiet Drinks Turns into a Life Changing Situation

A Few Quiet Drinks Turns into a Life Changing Situation

RE PIGGOTT [2017] WADC 150

Mr Piggott and Mr Benjamin Browne were involved in an incident at Mr Browne’s residence. During the incident Mr Browne struck Mr Piggott and Mr Piggott sustained grievous bodily harm. At the time there were four adults at the residence. Mr Browne’s wife, Mrs Taryn Browne, says she was inside. His brother, Mr Nathan Browne, says he was around the corner relieving himself. Mr Browne and Mr Piggott both give vastly different accounts of what occurred.

Shortly after the incident Mr Piggott left the residence and was spoken to by ambulance officers. The police spoke to Mr Piggott and Mr Browne on the night in question. Mr Piggott was taken to hospital, treated and then discharged. About a week later he underwent surgery to his injuries.

Initially he did not make a formal complaint to police, but later on Mr Piggott applied for compensation under s 17 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA) (the Act). An assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation (Assessor) refused the application as the Assessor was not satisfied on a balance of probabilities that an alleged offence occurred. Mr Piggott appealed to the District Court of Western Australia against that decision.

The issues on appeal were as follows:

  • whether the court was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that an alleged offence was committed against Mr Piggott;
  • whether Mr Piggott was engaged in criminal conduct at the time he sustained the alleged injury;
  • whether Mr Piggott, by his behaviour, contributed to the alleged injury; and
  • if the court was satisfied that it was appropriate to make an award, the amount of the award to be made.

Multiple witnesses were called to recollect their version of events, including ambulance and police officers who attended the incident, with different versions provided.

As to whether an alleged offence had been committed, the judge on appeal found that he was “… not satisfied that it is more likely than not that the grievous bodily harm was unlawfully caused. Mr Piggott has to satisfy me that the bodily harm was unlawfully caused and all I am able to say is that there was a verbal confrontation then a physical confrontation between the two men resulting in Mr Browne causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Piggott. In light of the intoxication of both men, the fact that both have, in my view, changed aspects of their evidence so that it fits with other evidence, and the defects in their evidence I am not able to say exactly what occurred in the physical confrontation.

As to whether Mr Piggott was engaged in criminal conduct at the time of the injury, the judge on appeal stated that “if the court is satisfied that Mr Piggott’s behaviour contributed to the alleged offence, the court may either refuse to make a compensation award or reduce the amount that would otherwise have been awarded” and went on to find that he was “ not satisfied it is more likely than not that Mr Browne was not acting in self-defence nor satisfied that it is more likely than not that his acts were not retaliation which went beyond self-defence in response to Mr Piggott’s assault and therefore the application ought be dismissed.”


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