Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh
A UK man has been charged with assault, following a fart in an Uber that triggered a brawl between the passenger and driver.
An intoxicated, 35-year-old, James Mallett, was sitting in the back seat of an Uber on his way to Chasers night club in Kingswood, when he ‘let one rip’.
With the driver no longer the only one ‘hitting the gas’, Aleksander Bonchev, who had already experienced a night of unpleasant clients, ordered Mallett to leave the vehicle.
The court heard that after experiencing verbal abuse from fares throughout the night, that the flatulence was the ‘final straw’.
Following being asked to leave the Uber, Mallett threatened to fight Bonchev before following through and striking Bonchev in the head.
“He behaved in an unattractive manner that night,” summarised defence lawyer Anthony Bignall,
Bonchev responded by knocking Mallett to the ground in self-defence.
Police encountered Mallett later on in the night, noting that he had a cut on his bottom lip, and was “plainly intoxicated.”
While Prosecutor James Scutt alleged that Mallett had been abusive to police, his defence lawyer sought to describe him as a “polite, helpful, well-behaved and courteous” man.
Mallett pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual harm and was sentenced to a six month-jail term, a $900 AUD fine, and 120 hours of community service.
His jail sentence has been suspended for 18 months.
The repercussions for Bonchev following the assault were quite severe, with him having to return to his native Bulgaria after sustaining a broken finger in the assault which rendered him unable to work, causing him to lose his job, accommodation, and car.
“All because he was doing his job that evening.” commented recorder Miss Alexia Power.
In NSW, assault occasioning actual bodily harm carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of up to five years, pursuant to section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
This will be applicable if a person is sentenced in the District Court, whereas if a person is sentenced in the Local Court, the maximum sentence is $5,500 fine or 2-years imprisonment, or both.
Could Farting Amount to Assault in Itself?
In NSW, there appears to be no case of this specific nature that has been tested before the courts.
In order to establish the offence of common assault, where no physical contact is made, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you caused another person to fear immediate and unlawful violence (or force),
- That your actions were intentional or reckless to such consequence, and
- That the other person did not consent.
Whether a fart is capable of instilling fear of immediate and unlawful violence into a ‘victim’, with the requisite subjective elements of intention or recklessness is ultimately up for debate and would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
In the US, a man who faced of battery for passing gas and fanning it toward a police officer had those charges dropped.
The Kanawha County prosecutor’s office requested that the specific charge be dropped against the man, despite the complaint alleging: “The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Patrolman Parsons.”
Whilst 34-year-old Jose Cruz did not deny passing the gas, he claimed it was out of necessity rather than malice, detailing “I couldn’t hold it no more.”
Questions on the law on assaults in NSW? Speak to a specialist criminal lawyer in Parramatta or Sydney CBD today.