By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It was a dismal and distressing day at best for Californian busker, Matt Eberhart, who, dressed as a pencil, was hit in the head by a spectator with the very ukulele he was performing with.
On 19 February 2020, Mr Eberhart stationed himself in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall to entertain for the day.
Almost ironically, around 12pm as he performed a parody of ‘I Will Survive’, Mr Eberhart was suddenly attacked by a bystander who grabbed his ukulele off him and allegedly used it to bash him in the head.
Video footage, captured by a witness, showed a man pick up the Fringe performer’s instrument from its case and start to march towards him.
The attacker then endeavoured to viciously hit the man with the ukulele before landing a blow to the entertainer’s head.
Witnesses were quick to pounce on the alleged attacker, pinning him down until police arrived.
Busker Taken to Hospital with Head Wound
Mr Eberhart was taken to hospital to treat the head wound, which included two significant gashes across his forehead.
Luckily, he did not receive any life-threatening injuries.
The musician condemned his attacker.
“It is one thing to punch a guy, it is another thing to take his stuff and hit him with it,” Mr Eberhard said.
“If you want to fight me, fight me with your fists.
“Even then – I am a lover not a fighter. I don’t like to fight.”
29-Year-Old Man Charged with Assault Causing Harm after Bashing Ukulele Musician
Police charged a 29-year-old man from Clearview with a series of offences, including assault causing harm, theft, property damage, carrying an offensive weapon and possessing a controlled drug.
They thanked the community for their help with the violent incident.
“Police would like to thank the members of the public for their assistance,” South Australia Police said in a statement.
“Anti-social behaviour or violence of any kind will not be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, the busker remains in good spirits and said he is not deterred from performing at the Fringe Festival.
The Adelaide Fringe Festival commenced last Friday, in which the city plays host to hundreds of performers from across Australia and around the world.
Prosecutors Describe Attacker as “Menace” with Significant History of Violence
Meanwhile, as the attacker faced Adelaide Magistrates Court over the assault, the court heard he also had a significant criminal history that is littered with violence.
Prosecutors went on to describe the accused as a “menace”.
“He’s clearly a menace, he clearly has a propensity for violence – his history is littered with it,” they said.
“It was an unprovoked attack on a member of the public.
“It was completely unacceptable.”
Prosecutors also identified that the man committed the act while on bail pending trial for a serious violent offending allegation.
“It would be a real danger to the public to release this individual on any form of bail,” prosecutors said.
The court also heard the attacker had a methamphetamine dependence, self-reported borderline personality disorder traits and had reported to hospital due to symptoms of psychosis.
In simple terms, assault refers to situations where a person does something to another person in way that either causes that other person to fear immediate unlawful violence or that causes unlawful force.
Assault can occur intentionally or recklessly. A reckless assault is when a person realises the likelihood of causing the fear or injury but continued in the offending behaviour regardless.
An intentional assault is when a person intended to cause the requisite fear or injury at the time of committing the offending behaviour.
In the same sense, assault occasioning actual bodily harm can be intentional or reckless.
An assault occasioning actual bodily harm occurs when a person (intentionally or recklessly) assaults another person without that persons’ consent, which causes that person actual bodily harm.
Actual bodily harm is a type of injury the law considers to be more than merely transient or trifling. Such injury isn’t required to be permanent and typically includes bruising or scratching. It can extend to psychiatric harm to a person (not just emotional harm).
Section 59(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes a maximum sentence of 5-years jail with a criminal conviction if a person ends up being sentenced in the District court.
Where a person is sentenced in the Local Court (which is usually the case for this offence), the maximum sentence is 2-years jail, $5,500 fine and a criminal conviction.
If a person commits this offence in the presence of another person (i.e. in company of another), the maximum sentence rises to 7-years imprisonment in the District Court.
Common defences to assault occasioning actual bodily harm charges include: self-defence, duress, necessity, citizens’ arrest, involuntary conduct or where the conduct was incidental considered normal in everyday life.
Assault charges are daunting to face. This article is a guide to help people understand this area of criminal law.