Fisherman found not guilty of murdering Irish man in Australia

Andrew Doan was accused of fatally stabbing John McCarthy in head with screwdriver

Charles McCarthy, an Irish father-of-two  died in Perth, Western Australia.

Charles McCarthy, an Irish father-of-two died in Perth, Western Australia.

 

Shannon Hampton

A fisherman who was accused of fatally stabbing an Irish man in the head with a screwdriver during a riverside fight about a comment perceived as racist has been cleared of murder.

Andrew Doan (35) walked free from the Supreme Court on Friday after a jury took just one hour to find him not guilty of murdering father-of-two Charles John McCarthy in East Fremantle on December 23rd, 2017.

Mr McCarthy’s brother Dan and twin sisters Siobhán and Sinead had travelled from their home in Cork to watch the trial.

Mr Doan had been fishing in the Swan River with his friend Tien Vu Huynh in the early hours of the morning when he became embroiled in an argument with Mr McCarthy (32) his wife Nicole and their friend Jason Curran.

The group was drunk and walking to the Tradewinds Hotel after a Christmas party.

Mr Doan said that when the men saw him and Mr Huynh emerging from the water, they asked: “Have you caught much?”

He mumbled “not much” in reply and they shot back “bit of s*** luck”, according to Mr Doan.

Mr Curran made a comment along the lines of “Fisheries will come and get you”, which upset Mr Doan and Mr Huynh, who are both Asian and interpreted it as racist.

Prosecutor James Mactaggart told the jury it was a “smart-arse, throwaway” comment. Mr Doan said the remark was racist because there was a stereotype “that all Asians catch undersize fish”.

The trio walked off but Mr Doan pursued them and a profane, verbal argument erupted.

Mr Doan said his anger soon gave way to feeling vulnerable and outnumbered when Mr McCarthy began “puffing up” and walked back towards him “really staunch” with his fists clenched.

“It looked like he was coming into a demonic rage,” Mr Doan said.

He said he panicked, reached into his hoodie pocket, pulled out a screwdriver he had been carrying for crabbing and held it above his head, saying: “Get back or I’ll stab you.”

Mr Doan said that as he retreated to his car, he had a scuffle with Mr Curran and Mr McCarthy kicked a wheelie bin at him, which just missed.

He said Mr McCarthy then charged and moved to punch him — ignoring his wife’s frantic pleas to stop — and impaled himself on the screwdriver, which Mr Doan was still holding. According to a report in the Western Australian, the screwdriver hit Mr McCarthy’s left temple, inflicting a fatal brain injury.

Mr Doan argued Mr McCarthy’s death was the result of a tragic “freak accident”.

Mr Doan insisted he had closed his eyes, thrown his arms up to protect his face and forgot the tool was in his hand.

When he opened his eyes, Mr McCarthy had collapsed, Mr Doan said.

Jury deliberation

The jury deliberated for one hour before believing Mr Doan’s account, finding him not guilty of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Mr Doan cried as the verdict was read. The public gallery – which was full of family and supporters of both Mr Doan and Mr McCarthy – also burst into tears.

Chief justice Peter Quinlan, who presided over the trial, told Mr Doan: “You are a free man … you will be reunited with your family very shortly”.

Outside court, Mr Doan’s lawyer Michael Perrella said Mr Doan would like to thank the jury for its “wisdom and common sense” in arriving at an acquittal.

“The verdict is not a win for anyone, there are no winners as a result of this trial,” he said.

“Those that were present on the night of the 23rd of December 2017 will leave with the consequences of what happened for the rest of their lives.

“And we just thank the jury for giving this matter the consideration and for letting Mr Doan get on with the rest of his life.”

An emotional Mr Doan said he was “shocked” when the jury handed down its verdict.

“It’s really good to be back with everyone, my family and friends, I missed them all so much, I can’t say how much I love them all,” he said as he broke down in tears.

“The support the whole time – I love you guys so much.”

Mr Doan said the past 13-and-a-half months, which he had spent in custody, had been “a crazy rollercoaster”.

“I’ve never been in this situation ever in my life and I don’t wish it upon anyone,” he said.

Mr McCarthy’s supporters were distraught and left the court without making a comment.– The Western Australian/PA