A jury has unanimously acquitted a 20-year-old man, accused of kicking another man in the head while he was on the floor, after a short trial.
Iuri Fernando Moreira Da Silva was facing one charge of grave and criminal assault - he admitted kicking the man in self-defence, but denied hitting him in the face.
His trial opened on Tuesday in the Royal Court, which is sitting at the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society (RJAHS) building, under the direction of the Bailiff, Timothy Le Cocq.
Pictured: The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday 5 July 2020, at the crossroads between Bath Street and Hilgrove Street.
The jury heard Mr Da Silva was accused of kicking a 21-year-old man in the head while he was on the floor, following what Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit described as a “petty drunken verbal argument” between two groups, in the early hours of Sunday 5 July 2020, at the crossroads between Bath Street and Hilgrove Street.
Mr Da Silva took to the stand yesterday and said he had reacted “instinctively” when he felt someone grab his ankles, moments after he had been punched in the face,
“Straight away, I thought I was going to be pulled to the floor,” he said. “I was scared that I was going to be pulled to the floor. I kicked the lad on the floor to avoid getting dragged down the floor and getting beaten up…I wouldn’t have said it was a hard kick as he was still moving perfectly fine after.”
Mr Da Silva said he knew “for a fact” he hadn’t kicked the man to the head but suggested his friend who was near him had taken a few kicks and hit the 21-year-old’s face.
Before the jury retired to consider their verdict, they heard speeches from Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, who was leading the prosecution, and Mr Da Silva’s lawyer, Advocate Simon Thomas.
Crown Advocate Maletroit described the incident as “fast moving and violent” and suggested Mr Da Silva had “downplayed” his actions in it.
He said the force used by Mr Da Silva had been “excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances."
The Crown Advocate added that “without any lawful justification [Mr Da Silva] kicked a man in the head while he was on the floor,” which he described as “a foolish thing to do” and a “cowardly act” which he said amounted to serious assault.
Pictured: Advocate Thomas was defending Mr Da Silva.
Advocate Thomas told the jury they had to be sure Mr Da Silva wasn’t acting in self defence to convict him.
He said that the evidence the prosecution relied on, the eyewitness account of PC Harry Matthews, was not as “compelling” as the jury might have initially thought. He suggested the officer had been “honestly mistaken” as he was looking at “a mêlée involving a lot of people” through a windscreen.
He said it was clear his client was acting in self-defence and judged it was necessary to kick, adding his decision had been made “in the spur of the moment” based on an “impending threat."
Advocate Thomas also noted how the police had failed to seize Mr Da Silva’s shoes after the incident to check for traces of the other man’s blood on them, the absence of which could have exonerated his client.
He urged the jury to return a not guilty verdict on the grave and criminal assault charge, as well as the alternative one of common assault, warning them of “being compromised into an alternative verdict."
After a very short deliberation, the jury of five men and six women returned an unanimous verdict of ‘not guilty’ on both charges.
Advocate Thomas made an application for the defence costs to be paid, which was granted.
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