$6000 fine for assault

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
Busselton resident John Sampson was attacked for mowing his lawn too late at night. His shoulder is now permanently damaged.
Camera IconBusselton resident John Sampson was attacked for mowing his lawn too late at night. His shoulder is now permanently damaged. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

A Busselton man was handed a $6000 fine on Tuesday after a neighbourly dispute resulted in an assualt and the victim’s right shoulder becoming permanently damaged.

Roger Charles Reeves, 65, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm after an incident on February 5 in which he pushed his neighbour to the ground twice for mowing his lawn “too late at night”.

A long-running dispute between Reeves and his victim, John Sampson, existed because Mr Sampson chose to mow his lawn after 7pm on summer nights.

Mr Sampson is classified as disabled after an infection spread to his spinal chord, resulting in weakness in his left side, causing him to take more than an hour to mow his lawn.

As a result, Reeves called police and the City of Busselton with noise complaints which were not followed up to his satisfaction.

After threatening to take matters into his own hands Reeves then attacked Mr Sampson who required several operations including receiving two metal plates, a bone graft, 12 screws and a complete shoulder replacement.

After three surgeries including a bone graft, two metal plates and 12 screws Mr Sampson’s shoulder had to be fully replaced.
Camera IconAfter three surgeries including a bone graft, two metal plates and 12 screws Mr Sampson’s shoulder had to be fully replaced. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Reeves lawyer Mr Michael Laurino said his client had approached Mr Sampson and “pushed him with two hands” causing Mr Sampson to fall to the ground.

“When he regained his footing he began swinging his arms and my client responded with his forearm, pushing Mr Sampson to the ground before a witness stopped the dispute,” he said.

At the time of the incident Reeves had been drinking and had recently stopped taking anti-depressant medication.

Magistrate Michelle Pontifex said, after weighing up the victim’s injuries and Reeves’ previously good record, her sentence “appropriately reflected the totality of the offence”.

However, Outside court Mr Sampson’s distraught wife said she was “angry and disappointed in the police prosecutor.”

“The police should have waited to see how badly he was injured before charging him and it should have been aggravated as John is over 65. He has had three serious operations and will never raise his arm again,” she said.

“He can’t even cut his own food and has had serious mental health issues as a result.”

An X-ray shows the full extent of the damage to John’s shoulder after the attack.
Camera IconAn X-ray shows the full extent of the damage to John’s shoulder after the attack. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Mrs Sampson also disputed Reeves account of events.

Despite her grievances Mrs Sampson said it was unlikely the family would appeal the conviction as the legal process would be costly and “create further stress.”

She declined to grant a spent conviction stating offences of this nature had to be kept on public record and the fine be paid to Mr Sampson.

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