Fine for assault with steak knife, kill threat charge dismissed

A BALLARAT man has been found guilty of assaulting his former-partner with a steak knife following a “volatile” dispute.

Paul Gormann, 48, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday, where he was also acquitted on one charge of threatening to kill Elizabeth Barnes on December 20, 2011.

But magistrate Peter Couzens found Gormann guilty of assault with a weapon.

Only two witnesses gave evidence during the contested hearing, including Ms Barnes who said Gormann had become angry over comments circulating on Facebook that she had been cheating on him.

Ms Barnes said Gormann pulled a steak knife out of a kitchen drawer and walked towards her.

“He came at me three times with the knife,” she said. “(He was) telling me he was going to stab me with the knife.”

Ms Barnes said that one thrust even tore her clothing, a point the defence claimed was a lie.

Counsel for Gormann, Abbie Burchill, said Ms Barnes had changed her story from the triple-0 call to her statement and her evidence in court.

“That’s just exaggeration, that didn’t even happen,” Ms Burchill said. “You just added the details to make it sound more serious.”

But when asked why she didn’t tell the triple-0 calltaker that Gormann had tried to stab her three times, she said she was too scared.

“I was in fear, I just wanted to get out of there and leave,” she said.

Ms Burchill claimed Gormann had actually told Ms Barnes to get out of his house following an argument, and that she had fabricated the incident to get back at him.

In revealing his verdict, Mr Couzens said he was satisfied by Ms Barnes version of events  – the only civilian witness to give evidence.

He said it was a “volatile interaction”.

“Thankfully there was no injuries sustained,” Mr Couzens said.

“It’s obviously a very serious charge.”

Mr Couzens said it was not possible to make out the charge of making a threat to kill from the evidence. 

Gormann, a father of three, was fined $1000 with conviction.

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