Two Mothers’ Charged with Affray Following on Online Disagreement

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By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

If you’re feeling anxious about the coronavirus and its deadly impacts, you’re not alone.

Indeed, as the virus spreads, more and more people are becoming apprehensive about what the emerging health crisis means to their life and to their loved ones.

And it makes sense – after all, with the virus spreading, entire cities have been quarantined and travel restrictions put in place all over the world.

But what you probably didn’t expect to hear is that the coronavirus is also causing furious debates and discussions amongst the worried – and now even a brawl.

It turns out that last month, two women from an online mothers’ group allegedly got into a scuffle in Brookvale, in Sydney’s north, over a disagreement online to do with the coronavirus.

Both ended up in hospital and were charged by the police.

 

From Keyboard to Commotion: How the Pair Ended up in Brookvale Brawl

On 28 January 2020, the two Sydney mums, aged 33 and 36, from the city’s northern beaches, were allegedly discussing the deadly disease in an online group chat when they decided they would meet up in person to settle, once and for all, the health effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

They decided they would meet at one of their places in Brookvale, each bringing a back-up friend for support.

However, when they arrived, the women’s dialogue suddenly turned into a violent clash, leaving one unconscious and both injured.

The two back-up women, also from the mothers’ group, attempted to separate the aggressive duo, but were unsuccessful.

As tensions boiled over and the pair came to blows, NSW police and paramedics arrived at the scene to break up the fight.

ABC News reports that according to Northern Beaches Police, the quarrel was quick to spiral out of control.

“The argument quickly escalated from verbal to physical; pushing, slapping, hair pulling and finally both on the ground, briefly unconscious, all despite the efforts of bystanders trying to intervene,” Northern Beaches Police said.

 

Mothers Taken to Northern Beaches Hospital Over Coronavirus Clash

The physical fight ended up with both mothers sent to hospital after suffering injuries.

The 36-year-old was treated for a head and shoulder injury, as well as a cut to her arm.

The 33-year-old was treated for a sore shoulder and other injuries. None were life-threatening.

Both women were released from hospital after almost a week.

The women were both charged with affray and will face Manly Local Court on March 25.

It is alleged one of the two mothers involved claimed she had criticised her counterpart for not going into quarantine upon returning from Wuhan in China.

Wuhan is the origin of the fatal illness.

The virus has now spread to 22 countries, with the number of confirmed cases nearing 10,000.

It has killed more than 360 people globally and infected 12 Australians.

For further details on affray law in NSW, call our friendly team 24/7 to arrange to speak with our criminal lawyers located in Sydney who appear across all courts.

Law on Affray

Put simply, affray is when a person uses or threatens to use unlawful violence towards another person, if such conduct would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the time to fear personal safety, according to section 93C Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

These acts of violence must be serious enough that they cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear personal safety, that is, to be frightened, to be fear being injured or harmed by the person charged.

As such, a person can be charged if they use physical force against another person.

This can include punching them, kicking them or propelling them, or even simply threatening to do so. However, a person cannot be guilty of affray if the alleged threat was made by the use of words only.

Affray can be committed in private as well as in public places.

Further, a ‘person of reasonable firmness’ does not actually need to be present at the scene.

This means, that even if no one was present at the scene, a court will apply an objective test in determining whether a person, if such a person were present at the scene, would fear personal safety from the alleged conduct. It answers this question by considering whether such a person of reasonable firmness at the scene might reasonably be expected to have feared personal safety.

In addition to this, if two or more persons use or threaten the unlawful violence, it is the conduct of them taken together that must be considered for the aforementioned offence of affray.

Common defences for the offence of affray include:

  • Maintaining your innocence if you did not commit the act
  • Arguing that the alleged threat(s) were merely words used.
  • Arguing that a person of reasonable firmness would not have feared for his or her personal safety due to the alleged conduct.
  • Arguing your behaviour was self-defence, necessity or duress.

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