A Wollongong judge has told disgraced Farmer Wants a Wife star Samuel Messina that he should be "ashamed" of his conduct after dismissing parts of Messina's appeal for domestic violence convictions.
Messina, 27, had appealed his conviction in Port Kembla Local Court for three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against his partner in 2020 in Orange and the severity of his sentence.
Messina was found guilty of the offences in November last year, and in January sentenced to an 18 month community corrections order, fined $350 for unlawfully entering the woman's property and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.
Barrister Alissa Moen representing Messina said that District Court Judge Chris O'Brien could find Messina not guilty of the three assaults as the evidence "did not sustain findings of guilt beyond reasonable doubt".
Ms Moen said the timing of when the woman first reported the assaults to a friend coincided with Messina auditioning for Farmer Wants a Wife and that Messina former partner was "disappointed" that Messina was leaving her for the prospect of finding love on the dating show.
"The timing and the content of that [allegation] supports the defence theory about a motive to lie ... by the event of feeling disappointed in the accused not for physically abusing her, but for abandoning her for the prospect of somebody else."
Ms Moen also said that the woman's complaint to police was fabricated after police refused the woman's request for a court order preventing Messina from coming near her after she had moved back to the Illawarra.
"The serious charges only come when the complainant is told that her allegations are not enough," Ms Moen said.
"There is an inherent implausibility in an aspect of the complainant's evidence."
The Crown disputed this, noting that the woman's behaviour was typical of many victims of domestic violence where victims remain in relationships with partners who may have assaulted them and delayed reporting these assaults to police.
Judge O'Brien ultimately found the broad thrust of the woman's testimony to be true, backed up by photos taken of her injuries at the time.
On the first assault, which happened in March 2020, Judge O'Brien said the couple had gotten into an argument and the woman had retreated into a bedroom and closed the door between them, however the argument continued. Messina then opened the door, slamming it into the woman's foot causing her bruising and pain, however Judge O'Brien said Messina did not act recklessly in opening the door, and did not intend to strike the woman's toes.
Judge O'Brien upheld the appeal on this charge.
Judge O'Brien dismissed the appeal on two other assaults that occurred in July 2020. The first occurred on 8 July when Messina "threw [the woman] around the room" grabbed her clothes and scratched her chest.
The second occurred on July 31, when Messina punched the woman in the nose, causing it to bleed for weeks afterwards.
Taking this into account, Judge O'Brien reviewed the sentence handed down in the Local Court in January.
Ms Moen contended that media coverage of Messina's case was "extracurial punishment"
"Very few men who commit such offences experience this degree of exposure of their conduct."
The Crown put forward that the media coverage was relevant, but did not cause "serious loss or detriment" to Messina.
Judge O'Brien found that while there may have been "embarrassment" for Messina, he had already thrust himself into the spotlight as a result of his appearance on Farmer Wants a Wife.
"There has perhaps been extracurial punishment as a result of your apparent notoriety, [but] that is notoriety that you sought."
Ultimately, Judge O'Brien reduced Messina's punishment for going onto the woman's property and stealing her rabbits by not recording a conviction but found that Messina must be convicted for the two assaults which were proven beyond reasonable doubt.
"Our community has had enough of men using women as punching bags, it is completely unacceptable," he said.
"Domestic violence in all its forms is a blight on our community, courts of this state are inundated with people just like you who think they have an entitlement to treat their domestic partner in any way they want and that's precisely what you did."
Judge O'Brien sentenced Messina to a community corrections order for 12 months and required Messina to complete 75 hours of community service.
"It is a matter of which you should feel rightly ashamed, your conduct is appalling."
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