John was born in Sierra Leone. As a result of the civil war in Sierra Leone, his mother came to believe that he and his brother were no longer alive.
In 2014, John’s mother discovered that John and his brother were in fact still alive. She was now living in Australia and sponsored her sons to migrate to Australia on a global humanitarian visa.
In 2016, John’s visa was granted by the Australian Government. After arriving in Australia, John lived with his mother and his extended family.
Unfortunately, after one year John was involved with a family altercation at home, resulting in John being charged with assault and having an interim Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) placed on him by the Police.
The charge and ADVO arose out of an incident initially involving an argument between his 15-year-old cousin and his mother.
John’s mother has a parental relationship with her niece and had confronted her niece about her delinquent behaviour, which resulted in an argument between the two.
John’s cousin became very distressed and the argument intensified. John attempted to diffuse the argument, but was drawn into the argument himself.
John’s cousin threatened to call the Police and attempted to push John out of her room. His cousin then called the Police and John subsequently left her room.
John ultimately was charged with assault and an interim ADVO placed against him, meaning he had to move out of his home to reside with his uncle. More troubling, a conviction for assault could have serious implications for his refugee visa.
After receiving the Police brief of evidence, it became clear to John that his cousin had made false accusations against him with respect to the events surrounding her argument with his mother. In addition, the Police facts stated John’s cousin was in fear of being killed by John.
John had never come into contact with the Police before, and approached Salvos Legal Humanitarian for representation.
It was apparent to us that there were a number of evidentiary issues with John’s case and we felt the prosecution case was relatively weak overall. The stakes were high though – John was a young, recent migrant to Australia, and a criminal record would have devastating ramifications for him.
John had maintained a consistent version of events which was supported by his mother’s version, he had no previous criminal record, had complied with all police requests, and was financially disadvantaged and emotionally vulnerable.
We have good relationships with a number of accredited specialist lawyers, and with John’s authority, we made contact with one of our external specialist criminal lawyers, Mr Ted Brambles, to see if he was willing to act in John’s matter.
After reviewing the police brief and information we provided regarding John’s case, Ted agreed without hesitation to appear in John’s matter pro bono.
After the hearing, Ted and John reported the good news back to us that the criminal charge and AVO against John had been dismissed.
The hearing of the matter ran for an entire day, the culmination of which was the failure of the prosecution to prove its case.
Notably, there were discrepancies between the police statements and John’s cousin’s evidence. In contrast, John’s evidence was consistent throughout the entire matter and at the hearing.
John expressed to us just how thrilled, relieved and grateful he was for the pro bono assistance from Ted and Salvos Legal Humanitarian, and for the successful outcome in his matter.