Screwdriver wounding was self defence

A Grand Court jury last week deliberated less than 15 minutes before returning verdicts of not guilty in the trial of Christopher Woolery, who had been charged with attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.

He was represented by Attorney Clyde Allen.

Woolery, 36, had told the court that he did not intend to harm Andy Wellington Smith in an incident near Tropical Plaza on 4 August, 2006. He said Smith was punching and beating him: ‘I struck out at him to ease him off.’

The striking out was with a screwdriver. Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson said medical evidence showed a puncture wound to Smith’s skull and puncture of his brain. Pieces of the skull had fractured, with one piece pressed into the brain and bleeding inside the skull.

Ms Hutchinson said Smith was air-lifted to a Miami hospital where he spent three weeks. He had to be referred to a neurosurgeon.

In his evidence, Smith told the court that he still had trouble sleeping and suffered from seizures on one side, facial twitching, headaches, nose bleeds and memory loss.

In her instructions to the jury, Justice Levers advised that Woolery did not have to prove that he was acting in self-defence. In fact, he didn’t have to say anything. Once he raised the issue of self-defence, it was for the prosecution to make jurors feel sure that he did not act in self-defence.

They had to be sure that, when Woolery was doing the act, he was doing it with the intention to kill or do grievous bodily harm.

The judge suggested that jurors might be assisted by photographs of Woolery. Smith had denied choking Woolery, but there were bruises to his neck and shoulders, along with bruising and swelling over the bridge of his nose extending to his eyebrow.

The judge also suggested that if jurors did not believe Smith’s account, they might have a problem because there were witnesses to the incident who did not tell the same story.

Smith, 24, acknowledged there had been bad blood between the two men before they met by accident on the afternoon of 4 August. He said the incident began when Woolery pushed him.

Woolery denied doing any pushing. He said he went to the restaurant to get lunch for his mother and he saw Smith on his way out. The next thing he knew he was on the ground and Smith was on top of him throwing blows. He was calling for help, but nobody would come.

When he was able to get away, he went toward his car. He had lost his food and his glasses. He saw a piece of metal and picked it up because ‘I just thought if he saw me with something in my hand he wouldn’t beat me again.’

Meanwhile, someone had called police and one officer arrived. Woolery said he went to the officer and held out his hands stating, ‘The man beating me up, I can’t take it no more.’ He said the officer held on to him and Smith came over and started punching him again.

The officer gave evidence confirming that Smith started punching Woolery in his presence. He saw when Woolery raised his hand with the screwdriver and came down on Smith’s head.

In her summary of the evidence, Justice Levers suggested that maybe one officer should not be sent alone to respond to an incident.

After the jury’s verdicts, she told Woolery, ‘It is my view that justice has been done today.’

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