A Melbourne man will not face jail time despite shocking footage of him dragging a nurse into a laneway and pinning her to the ground.
21-year-old Jackson Williams was found guilty of common assault yet was ultimately acquitted of attempting to sexual assault the woman and received a two-and-a-half-year community corrections order.
In October 2018, Williams grabbed the 39-year-old woman from behind and dragged her into a laneway, towards the ground.
He proceeded to get on top of her, even attempting to put a hand over her mouth to silence her, before running away, as shown on recorded security footage.
The attack lasted 37 seconds, and was interrupted by Adrian Woodgate, an off-duty New Zealand detective, who had been holidaying in Melbourne with his family.
Mr Woodgate yelled at Williams, who then fled the laneway.
The conditions of Williams’ community corrections order will include 200 hours of unpaid community work and being prohibited from going to any licensed premises for six months.
Williams claims he cannot remember the attack and was “just really intoxicated” and “wasn’t really thinking”.
The attack was committed at around 6:30am after Williams had spent a night partying, and whilst the victim was walking to work.
In detailing her reasoning for acquitting Williams of intending to commit sexual assault, Judge Fox summarised that he did not do anything “consistent with an intention to commit a sexual offence against her.”
This included, that he did not attempt to kiss the victim, did not remove, or attempt to remove her clothing or his own, and did not position his body in a way that would separate her legs.
“It may be tempting to reason that because his body is on top of hers for a period during the assault … then there must be a sexual intention.
“However, a dispassionate viewing of the CCTV footage shows that he is using his weight to control the complainant, who might be smaller and weaker but is still resisting and screaming.” she explained.
Williams, who previously played football in the Essendon District Football League in Melbourne’s western suburbs, has faced public humiliation and shunning due to his actions.
He has reportedly received racial abuse, death threats and even a group of individuals attacking his home, that he shares with his grandparents.
Victoria’s County Court also heard how Williams’ IQ borders on impaired, and how he would be vulnerable in prison.
However, nurse and mother-of-three Emm Jones has since started a petition attracting over 60,000 signatures calling for the sentence to be appealed.
“When are we as women going to be able to walk the streets without the fear we may end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“This woman now has a life sentence… She will re-live those moments for the rest of her life. She will be haunted by his face for the rest of her life.” explained Mrs Jones.
According to the International Council of Nurses, 72% of nurses do not feel safe from assault, with it being more likely to be attacked at work as a nurse than as a police officer.
Furthermore, due to the pandemic, concerns have further spiked regarding nurses receiving abuse or being assaulted by members of the public falsely spruiking that frontline workers were spreading COVID-19.
It resulted in hospital administrators recommending that uniforms should not be worn on the way to work as a preventive measure.
He has been found guilty of common assault, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment pursuant to section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
Actual bodily harm entails an injury that need not be permanent, but more than merely transient or trifling (R v Donovan  2 KB 498).
Click here for an outline on assault charges in NSW come in many forms with harsh penalties under the law.
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This article has been written by our own in-house assault lawyer Sydney team.