At about 7pm last Saturday night, a 15-year-old teenage girl, along with her friends, were walking along on a road in Cessnock, NSW when a teenager carrying a pipe with a homemade dart reportedly “leaned out of a vehicle window with a pipe and blew the dart into the girl’s face (https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/there-s-a-screw-sticking-out-of-your-face-teen-charged-after-girl-hit-with-dart-20181126-p50ib1.html)”.
A 17-year-old teenager who allegedly did this was arrested and charged at the Cessnock police station the next day after the Hunter Valley Police District commenced investigations.
The teenager who is now charged with using a prohibited weapon and reckless wounding offences is now due to attend a Children’s court on 11 December this year after he was granted bail.
The dart landed on the girl’s cheek, only 2cm from the bone, artery and nerve in her cheek.
“If it hit that I could have lost the feeling in half my face and bled to death in eight minutes”, she said.
The girl initially thought that a branch had hit her, but panicked after learning that really happened.
She is reported saying, “I was like ‘what is it?’ and my friend Jayde said, ‘there’s a screw sticking out of your face’ and I just started freaking out”.
“The window was down, and the guy was looking at me and then he pulled the dart blower out and he just shot it at us… it’s kind of heartbreaking that someone could actually go ahead and do something like that just for fun and games.” She said (https://www.9news.com.au/2018/11/25/18/40/cessnock-blow-dart-attack-leaves-teenage-girl-with-facial-injuries).
The graphic image depicts an object lodged inside the girls left cheek- the object appears to look like a screw wrapped with a blue tape.
The 15-year-old girl was eventually transported to the John Hunter Hospital before getting surgery done to remove the dart.
Police believe that the girl was targeted at random (https://tendaily.com.au/news/crime/a181125pyg/girl-shot-in-face-with-makeshift-blow-dart-teen-arrested-20181125) while the alleged offender blew the home-made dart at the girl from a vehicle that was, at the time, stopped. The vehicle is reported to be a Toyota Hilux which witnesses observed to leave the scene. The vehicle is reported to have green P plates attached to it.
What is a ‘Prohibited Weapon’ in NSW? (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/what-are-the-defences-and-penalties-for-being-armed-with-an-offensive-weapon-in-nsw/)
The possession or use of prohibited weapons in NSW is governed by the Weapons Prohibition Regulation 2017 (NSW) (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/nsw/consol_reg/wpr2017322/).
Section 4 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW) defines a prohibited weapon as anything outlines in schedule 1 of the Act (http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/wpa1998231/sch1.html), including, a flick knife, butterfly knife, military-style weapons, blow-gun or blow-pipe “that is capable of projecting a dart, or any other device that consists of a pipe or tube through which missiles in the form of a dart are capable of being projected by the exhaled breath or the user or by any other means other than an explosive.”
A prohibited weapon also includes “any dart capable of being projected from a blow-gun or blow-pipe.”.
Penalties for Possession or Use of a Prohibited Weapon in NSW
A person who possesses or uses a ‘prohibited weapon’ (without being authorised with a permit) will face a penalty of up to 14-years imprisonment in NSW (section 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW) (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/wpa1998231/s7.html)).
Where the offence is dealt with in the District Court, a person guilty of this offence will face the possibility of a ‘standard non-parole period’ of 5-years full-time jail before being eligible to be released on parole if the offence falls within the category of the middle of the range of objective seriousness of this offence by the Judge.
This ‘standard non-parole period’ is only to be used as a guide in the sentencing process for the Judge.
For a list of all offences that carry a standard non-parole period in NSW, see the standard non-parole period table (https://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/sentencing/appendix_a.html).
Penalties for Reckless Wounding in NSW (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/offences/assault/reckless-grievous-bodily-harm-or-wounding/)
Anyone who is found guilty of recklessly wounding a person in NSW will face heavy penalties of up to seven-years imprisonment (section 35 of the Crimes act 1900 (NSW) (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ca190082/s35.html)).
Anyone guilty of recklessly wounding a person whilst being ‘in company’ of another person will face a penalty of up to 10-years imprisonment.
This offence also carries with it a 3-year ‘standard non-parole period’ of imprisonment. This Means, that a sentencing Judge or Magistrate is required to consider imposing a minimum of 3-years full time jail before the convicted offender is eligible to be released on parole if the offence is considered to fall in the middle-range of objective gravity for these offences.
The ‘standard non-parole period’ of 3-years is not mandatory, and only to be used as a guide for the court if it applies.
What Does ‘In Company’ Mean?
‘In company’ means, where an offender commits this offence whilst in the presence of another person who has the potential effect i.e. by intimidating the victim, or the effect offering support or encouragement to the offender, or for a common purpose (see White v Regina  NSWCCA 190 (https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/57bb8ffee4b058596cb9eb35)).
The Law on Reckless Wounding Offences in NSW (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/what-are-the-penalties-and-defences-for-grievous-bodily-harm-and-wounding-charges-in-nsw/)
A person will be guilty of reckless wounding charges if:
- An accused person causes wounding (penetration of the interior layer of skin and includes a split lip) on a victim; and
- At the time of causing this injury, the accused person at least realised the possibility of this kind of injury occurring (not necessarily the exact harm caused).
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