A Queanbeyan teenager charged with accidentally killing his little brother has pleaded not guilty to the offence.
The 16-year-old appeared in Queanbeyan Children’s Court on Tuesday, where he is charged with assault causing the death of his 10-year-old brother.
The charge was introduced recently as part of legislation designed to address the problem of one-punch attacks.
On the same day the Queanbeyan teenager pleaded not guilty to the offence, a Newcastle court recorded the first conviction of a person under the new legislation.
In the Newcastle case, the man was charged with manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault causing death. He will be sentenced in June.
The Queanbeyan incident occurred on May 23, 2016. It is alleged the teenager grabbed hold of the 10-year-old’s wrist and punched him in the ribs. The younger boy attempted to get away when the teenager allegedly pushed him, causing the boy to hit his head on the corner of a door frame.
The 16-year-old and his mother commenced CPR on the boy, however he was pronounced dead at the Canberra Hospital days after the incident when his life support was switched off.
Previously in court, the boy’s solicitor Michael Bartlett said the autopsy found the 10-year-old had a tissue disorder affecting his cerebral artery.
While a second opinion was sought on the previously undiagnosed brain condition, Mr Bartlett said he’d been told the expert view of the forensic psychologist who diagnosed the condition “doesn’t need to be questioned”.
Following the not guilty plea, both parties agreed the matter needed to be committed to trial because it was a homicide.
But the parties could not immediately decide which superior court should hear the matter.
Mr Bartlett called for the matter to be heard in the district court, where he said other matters with maximum 20-year sentences were heard.
The crown prosecutor suggested the matter should be committed to the supreme court, as this charge was a “statutory alternative” to murder and manslaughter.
The court concluded the case would be heard in the district court.
An application to waive a committal hearing was granted and the case will proceed in May.