What is Armed with an Offensive Weapon to Commit an Indictable Offence?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

It’s not every day that you hear of a person causally wandering the streets with a bow and arrow, ready to fire it.

It’s even less often that you hear of the victim of a bow and arrow attack being saved all thanks to their mobile phone.

A remarkable escape? An uncanny case of sheer luck? Call it what you like, but this is definitely no episode of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!.

It is alleged that on  13 March, 2019, a 43-year-old man managed to unintentionally dodge being shot with an arrow, which with unrivalled precision, ended up piercing straight through his mobile phone instead.

It is reported that the man had simply held up his phone to photograph his attacker who raised the bow and arrow he was armed with.

The assailant allegedly then fired the arrow, which ended up spearing directly into the man’s phone and preventing him from serious injury.

 

How the Victim’s iPhone Saved His Life

According to NSW Police, at about 9:00am on Wednesday, the victim drove into his driveway in Nimbin, in the north of the state, and got out of his car.

The resident noticed another man standing there, who was known to him, allegedly carrying a bow and arrow.

The man then held up his phone to photograph his attacker, at which point he launched the arrow.

With a stroke of luck, the arrow went right through the mobile phone of his victim, causing only the phone to hit him in the chin.

The impact left the man with a small cut, however he did not require medical treatment.

Indeed, the iPhone was no match for the sharp arrow.

 

Police Arrest Man for Bow and Arrow Attack

NSW Police arrested the man, aged 39, at the scene.

He was taken to Nimbin police station where he was charged with being armed to commit an indictable offence, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and malicious damage.

He was granted conditional bail to appear in Lismore local court in the middle of April.

What are the Penalties for Being Armed with the Intention of Committing an Indictable Offence?

Section 114 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prohibits anyone from having the intention of committing an indictable offence while he/she is armed with any weapon or instrument.

It also prohibits anyone from possessing (without lawful excuse) any implement of housebreaking or safebreaking, or any implement that can be used to enter or drive (or enter and drive) a motor vehicle, bicycle, vessel or caravan.

Anyone who is guilty of committing any such offence will face a maximum penalty of up to 7-years imprisonment.

The courts can usually draw ‘inferences’ as to whether an accused person had the requisite ‘intention’ at the time of committing the offending conduct. The inference can be drawn by looking into the circumstances of the evidence.

What is an ‘indictable offence’? An indictable offence is a criminal offence which can be dealt with either in the Local Court or District Court (and some in the Supreme Court). These are offences considered more serious than ‘summary offences’.

Indictable offences carry maximum penalties of more than two years, whilst ‘serious indictable offences’ carry a maximum penalty of 5 years or more.

Examples of indictable offences includes, assault occasioning actual bodily harm charges, and drug offences.

What does ‘armed with any weapon or instrument’ mean? Under section 4 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), this includes bearing or having the immediate physical possession of an offensive weapon or instrument.

An offensive weapon includes, a dangerous weapon, or something made or adapted for offensive purposes, or something that in the circumstances is used, intended to be used, or threatened to be used for offensive purposes (regardless of whether it’s ordinarily used for offensive purposes or capable of causing harm).

A ‘dangerous weapon’ is also defined in section 4 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), and includes a firearm, or imitation firearm under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW), or a prohibited weapon under the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW), or a spear gun.

A ‘bow and arrow’ is considered an ‘offensive weapon’.

While ‘offensive weapons’ can include dangerous weapons, firearms or prohibited weapons, which all require a permit for someone to have or use, other kinds of ‘offensive weapons’ such as a ‘bow and arrow’ do not require a permit under the Weapons Prohibition Act.

While a ‘cross bow’ comes close to a ‘bow and arrow’, it is not the same thing.

A ‘cross bow’ is specifically expressed under schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW) as a ‘prohibited weapon’ and ‘dangerous weapon’.

You will be not guilty to a charge of being armed with the intention of committing an indictable offence if any of the following defences apply:

  • You were that intoxicated with drugs or alcohol at the time of being armed with an offensive weapon, that you could not have had the intention to commit an indictable offence at the time; or
  • You were suffering a mental illness which prevented you from knowing the nature or quality of what you did, or you simply did not appreciate that rightness or wrongness of what you did at the time.
  • Your conduct was a direct result of you trying to protect yourself (or someone else) in circumstances where such conduct is considered a reasonable response in the circumstances that you had perceived at the time of committing it (self-defence).

For any questions, we have criminal defence lawyers in Sydney, Newcastle, Penrith and various other locations across NSW. We are available 24/7 and appear in all courts across Australia.

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