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Judge: No Jail for Law Office Bat-Wielder

Posted Aug 13, 2007 2:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A middle-aged businessman who smashed a baseball bat through an inner window of an Australian attorney's office after the lawyer locked himself inside will not be sentenced to jail.

Instead, a judge imposed a $4,200 fine and a three-year good-behavior bond on Jim Byrnes, 47, who earlier pleaded guilty to malicious damage, affray and carrying an offensive instrument concerning the December 2006 incident in Sydney, Australia. A magistrate had imposed a four-month prison term, which the judge overruled on appeal, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The magistrate had described Byrnes, who reportedly was previously fined $500 in a 2001 assault and has an additional criminal record, as a "standover thug." However, New South Wales District Court Chief Judge Reg Blanch was more sympathetic to defense counsel's arguments that Byrnes' bat-wielding was completely out of character and that he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The incident was "a bit of a brain explosion," according to Blanch, who noted that it frightened the lawyer concerned. Nonetheless, "(b)earing in mind the character of the appellant, it's not a case for a jail sentence," the judge concluded.

Byrnes, who described the incident as a semi-practical joke, had gone to the law office of solicitor Hector Ekes in December to finalize business dealings over a debt, the newspaper reports. "I was going to give him a bit of a fright," said Byrnes. "It just all went horribly pear-shaped."

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