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Family ‘gutted’ by manslaughter acquittal

Lachlan Mark McCluskey, 21, of Paralowie fatally punched father-of-two Julian Irish, 46, outside Parafield Gardens pub the Slug ‘N’ Lettuce Hotel in a scuffle lasting less than four seconds on June 29, 2019.On Tuesday, District Court Judge Liesl Chapman delivered the not guilty verdict, finding “the accused’s punch caused the death of the deceased” but that prosecutors had “failed to exclude lawful self-defence as a reasonable possibility”.Speaking outside court after the verdict was delivered, Julian Irish’s ex-wife said his family were “extremely devastated” and felt let down by the court system.She said her former husband was a “good, kind” and “hardworking man”.Mr Irish’s daughter, Brooke Irish, said drunken violence happened “way too often” and “something should change”.In her published reasons for verdict, Judge Chapman said Mr Irish had approached the two men outside the pub and, after some conversation, “stepped forward and chested the accused then grabbed his shirt”.She said Mr McCluskey’s friend, Benjamin Purvis – who was also previously charged over the incident but the charge was withdrawn – had then pushed Mr Irish away.“The accused punched the deceased on the left side of his head near where the base of his head, the jaw and the neck meet,” she said.Mr Irish was taken to hospital, but was declared brain dead later that day. She said she could not exclude the reasonable possibility Mr McCluskey’s punch was reasonably proportionate to the threat he faced from an “older, taller, heavier and intoxicated” stranger who had “unexpectedly started the physical aggression”.“I cannot exclude the possibility that the accused genuinely believed his punch was necessary and reasonable for a defensive purpose,” she said.“I find the accused not guilty of manslaughter.”During the trial, prosecutors argued McCluskey had other options available rather than resorting to violence.In his defence, Mr McCluskey’s counsel, Marie Shaw QC, said her client was acting in lawful self-defence and that he may not have thrown the fatal punch. She said a second punch thrown by Mr Purvis could have struck Mr Irish and caused the fatal injuries.In her findings, Judge Chapman said that blow was likely “minor” and that Mr Irish was already falling by the time Mr Purvis had his arm outstretched towards him.Mr McCluskey declined to comment outside court and embraced supporters after he left.

Source: Family ‘gutted’ by manslaughter acquittal

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