Acquitted man to seek court costs

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
A verdict was handed down in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Camera IconA verdict was handed down in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Credit: South Western Times

A man acquitted of indecently touching a 16-year-old girl outside a Bunbury restaurant will try to recoup more than $18,000 in legal costs from prosecutors.

Mark James Allen, 48, of Perth, successfully fought allegations he touched the girl on the outside of her pants in her pubic area when he crossed paths with the apprentice chef outside the restaurant on May 20, 2017.

During a two day trial, prosecutors argued that Mr Allen was loitering outside the restaurant and closed-circuit TV footage showed him acting “strange or odd”.

The girl had alleged that as she crossed paths with Mr Allen, they tried to dodge each other before he reached out and touched her.

Mr Allen’s lawyers argued that the footage captured showed the two crossing paths in the “briefest” of moments and the girl’s evidence did not match up.

After adjourning a verdict decision last week, Magistrate David MacLean on Tuesday acquitted Mr Allen of the unlawful and indecent assault charge.

Magistrate MacLean said while the girl was an “impressive” and credible witness, it was ultimately the explanation of the alleged event that was “inconsistent” with what was captured on footage.

He said a “significant event” was the girl’s claim that she saw the man inside the restaurant after the alleged event and had told police, but it was not included in her statement to police.

He said while footage showed the girl instantly reacting and acting as “one might do” in such an event, it was not a balance of probabilities but instead a “beyond reasonable doubt exercise”.

He also said Mr Allen’s demeanour had no inference of guilt.

After the verdict was handed down, Mr Allen’s lawyer asked for compensation of legal costs worth $18,414 which included $1023 for Tuesday’s appearance.

Magistrate MacLean described that amount as “ambitious” and “over the top” as the appearance reached its “29th minute”.

Prosecutors were granted an adjournment to consider the costs.

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