After a drawn-out prosecution process and lengthy trial, two Tasmanian men have been convicted of changes stemming from a pub fight that resulted in another man’s death.
Brothers David Blazely and Mitchell Dowling were drinking at the ALH’s Mowbray Hotel on 17 July, 2013. Another man at the hotel, Tony Brown, reportedly insulted and threatened the brothers with violence over the course of several hours.
Around 8pm Blazely approached and punched Brown several times, while Dowling did the same to a friend of Brown’s, Derryn Thomas. Father, Grant Thomas, attempted to hold Dowling back and was also punched several times.
Brown, who had been knocked to the floor, was dazed and being supported standing by the venue manager. Dowling then also punched Brown, knocking him out. He later died.
Initially murder charges were brought against the brothers, but these were subsequently dropped on the basis that the evidence was insufficient for a conviction.
State forensic pathologist Dr Donald Ritchey gave evidence last year during preliminary proceedings, stating that he could not determine who delivered the fatal blow, or even if it was in fact a combination of both their actions.
The jury rejected the men’s claims of self-defence. They convicted Blazely to one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm and two of assault, and Dowling to one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm and of assault.
Justice Robert Pearce condemned the men’s criminal conduct and their “unmeritorious attempt” to blame the Hotel. He noted that Brown had significantly provoked the brothers, that the incident was not premeditated and neither had used a weapon, and that they were both affected by alcohol.
Justice Pearce also noted that the Crown had not proved any direct link causing Brown’s death and that neither was actually charged with murder, so sentencing could not take Brown’s death into account.
He sentenced Blazely to two years and six months jail, and Dowling to two years and three months jail, each with a non-parole period of half the sentence. The sentences were backdated to last October, meaning Dowling will be eligible for release this December and his brother in January.