The mother of a one-punch victim, who died after being hit during a drunken scrap on an Adelaide street, fought back tears this week as her son’s attacker walked free from court, having been acquitted.
His attacker Reece Andrew Watherson was initially charged with manslaughter, however on Monday he was found not guilty verdict, having claimed he was acting in self-defence.
While Justice Anne Bampton accepted it was Watherson’s punch that killed Jack, however added that she could not deny the possibility the attacker had been protecting himself and, therefore, could not deliver a guilty verdict.
Appearing outside South Australia’s Supreme Court after the ruling Jack’s mum Julie Kelbin struggled to contain her emotions as she claimed the legal system had failed her son.
“While I visit a cemetery to sit at my son Jack’s grave, Watherston gets to live his life freely,” the visibly distraught mum told reporters after the verdict was delivered.
“Where is the justice for my son Jack, who had never had a violent fight in his life?
“How can a person kill another person with one punch [and] just receive a f***ing not guilty? Isn’t my son’s life worth more than this?”
“568 days of hell without my boy”
— Elspeth Hussey (@ElspethHussey7) July 1, 2019
Julie said that while she accepts Watherson did not intend to kill her son, he still took away his opportunity to live a long and happy life.
The mum claimed she feels as if she’s been robbed, with the loss of her son leaving a “missing link” in the family.
“I’ve lived 568 days of hell without my youngest son Jack,” she continued. “I know the offender didn’t intend to kill my son but he did. Where is the justice?
“Every weekend someone is hurt in this city, when are we going to step up?”
Handing down the verdict on Monday, Bampton said in a written judgement that there was not enough evidence to suggest Watherston had not acted in self-defence and had attacked Jack out of nowhere.
An Adelaide man on trial for manslaughter has been found not guilty over the one-punch death of a 22-year-old during a brawl in 2017. Reece Watherston was accused of killing Jack Hanley during an early morning fight on Hindley Street. https://t.co/FL9gaRuJlh #TheLatest #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/RqkStut9Wx
— 7NEWS Australia (@7NewsAustralia) July 1, 2019
She claimed she had not been “satisfied without reasonable doubt” that Watherston claims were untrue and so could not hand down a guilty verdict.
“Having regard to the whole of the evidence, and submissions of counsel, in this matter, the prosecution has not satisfied me beyond reasonable doubt that I should reject Mr Watherston’s evidence as a reasonably possible version of the facts,” she said according to the ABC.
“The prosecution has not excluded as a reasonable possibility that Mr Watherston, when confronted by Mr Hanley … fought back because he believed he had to, and that that belief was reasonable and genuine, and that his conduct was proportional to the threat he perceived.”
Meanwhile, one of Jack’s friends Kalise Pansini, who was with him at the time of the attack, has claimed according to the ABC that Jack was not fighting when he was punched by Watherson.
She said Jack was standing beside her at the time and made no intention to harm Watherson in any way while describing him as someone who didn’t have a “nasty bone in his body”.