Man denies Bellambi hammer attack charges

A Wollongong defence lawyer has described as ‘‘complete and utter fantasy’’ police claims that one of her clients lodged a claw hammer in another man’s arm during a violent stoush over an unpaid debt.

Jane Healey said her client, Jason Sidney James, would vigorously defend allegations he and two others attacked the man in his Bellambi townhouse on October 21 last year.

The male victim was left with a heavily bleeding forearm after putting his left arm up to deflect the hammer. 

Police said James was responsible for the action, accusing him of grabbing the implement and swinging it at the victim following a physical altercation between the pair moments earlier.

However, Ms Healey said James would plead not guilty to a single charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

‘‘Mr James says the allegation is a complete and utter fantasy,’’ she said, adding her client had said he did not even know one of his alleged co-accused – a female that police claim was inside the victim’s house when the attack took place and who supposedly told the man he was going to ‘‘cop it’’ before the melee erupted.

Ms Healey sought James’s release on bail yesterday, saying he had been on Supreme Court bail in an unrelated matter for almost seven weeks and had been complying with his release conditions.

She rejected suggestions from the police prosecutor that James posed a threat to the community and should be kept behind bars, noting that if police were concerned about him being at liberty, they could have arrested him on December 4 when he was released on bail.

‘‘It’s taken police nearly three months to charge him,’’ Ms Healey said. 

‘‘He’s been in the community for six weeks, complying with his bail.’’

She said James, who works as a handyman for a company supplying jumping castles, could live at an address in Blackbutt, report to police and have an acceptable person put up a cash guarantee to ensure he attends court.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart agreed to grant James strict bail, noting he had abided by the bail conditions imposed by the Supreme Court since December.

He set a surety of $1000 and ordered him to report to police twice a week. The matter will return to court on February 26.