Tyson Joel Wylie spotted his victim from across the road.
He calmly checked for traffic before striding across the Sunshine Coast street. He jumped a rail at a taxi rank, determined to reach his target.
Then, the 26-year-old delivered a series of powerful blows with his left fist. After the second, the man whose name Wylie didn’t even know fell back against a rail. With the third sickening coward’s punch, he fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
After his victim was unconscious, with fractures to his face, an undaunted Wylie evenly strode off, not checking whether the stranger he just knocked to the ground was still alive, before being apprehended by police.
It was a stroke of good fortune that the entire incident – the second violent attack by the perpetrator in one week – was captured on CCTV.
But Maroochydore magistrate Rod Madsen deemed the video evidence was not worth watching.
According to The Courier-Mail, he twice refused the police prosecutor’s offers to play the video, saying: “I don’t like watching videos, they can be very subjective’’.
“They can become emotive,’’ the magistrate said.
“I rely on the evidence… facts.’’
And that’s exactly why the magistrate needed to see the video. Because there is no better version of the “facts” than being able to witness them for yourself. Documenting incidents like these is the entire point of having CCTV cameras in public places. And having the benefit of the crime recorded and able to be viewed in court is an amazing advantage to those charged with deciding an appropriate punishment. It is an opportunity that should never be turned down.
Of course, watching the horrific assault may be emotive for those in court as they relive the attack or realise just how lucky it was the victim escaped with his life. But how can video evidence of the incident be considered subjective or biased? Footage can’t alter the facts.
It’s different to hearing the police prosecutor coolly speed through a summary of the incident. It’s different to hearing the defence lawyer skew the facts to present their client’s side of the event in the best possible light, subtly using language with more positive connotations than an objective person might, focusing on the offenders’ good prospects of rehabilitation and breezing past the victim’s ongoing pain and suffering.
Watch the incident here:
The magistrate heard Wylie, a fly in-fly out worker was drunk. He heard Wylie was an impressive young man who had acted out of character (and apparently acted similarly out of character during a comparable attack six days earlier). He heard Wylie was stressed due to a recent marriage break-up. That he was remorseful for his conduct, had strong family support and was a committed member of his church.
He heard glowing references from 13 family members, work colleagues and a former teacher.
After hearing all of that, Mr Madsen handed down a two-year suspended sentence and ordered Wylie – who pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm for the September 26 attack – pay the victim $5000 compensation.
But the magistrate didn’t see Wylie check the road for oncoming traffic, clearly in control as he selfishly ensured his own safe crossing, before calmly obliterating the safety of his victim.
Footage of the crime is arguably more valuable than each of those types of evidence. Because it’s nothing but the cold, hard, visible facts.
The truth is that devastating fatal one-punch attacks don’t look any different to the one that Wylie perpetrated. It’s just sheer luck that this victim survived.
And not watching the readily available recording of the incident, which left the victim with fractured facial bones, a gap in his memory and ongoing psychological issues, before weighing up the seriousness of the crime is almost negligent.
It’s deciding a fitting punishment for a crime without considering every available piece of evidence.
And the public is completely justified in being outraged about it.