NSW prosecutors have dropped the case against a Queanbeyan boy accused of causing the death of his brother during a fight.
The boy, 16, who legally cannot be named, was supposed to face trial on Monday for assault causing death of the 10-year-old.
But instead prosecutors said they had withdrawn the charge.
Why remains unclear; no reasons were given in court.
The offence the boy was charged with was added to the NSW books three years ago to “make our streets safer by introducing new measures to tackle drug-and alcohol-related violence.”
It attracts a 20 year maximum penalty for those convicted.
In the Queanbeyan boy’s case, the charge stemmed from a fight with his little brother at home, at about 2pm on May 23, 2016.
It was alleged in court documents that the boy, then 15, woke to his siblings fighting and his mother having words with them.
It was said the boy grabbed the 10-year-old and punched him.
In the younger boy’s attempts to get away, he hit his head on the corner of a door frame. Prosecutors alleged he was shoved, while the boy’s defence said their client had effectively let go.
The younger boy’s life support was turned off two days later.
What had happened was a “long way” from a “one-punch” assault in Kings Cross, the boy’s solicitor Michael Bartlett said outside court in an interview with The Canberra Times.
Mr Bartlett, who spoke with permission of the boy’s family, said the arrest and charging of the boy was “over the top” from the start.
He described the way his client was questioned by police after his brother’s death as unfair and said it bordered on improper.
Mr Bartlett said his client had gone of his own accord to police to tell them what had happened. He was given telephone advice not to speak to police until a legal representative had arrived.
But, he said, the boy was interviewed shortly after.
Mr Bartlett said the boy was questioned, in the presence of an independent person, for more than four hours, in which he was asked multiple times for his version of events.
There were also questions over whether the fight in fact caused the death, when an autopsy found the younger boy may have had a medical condition relevant to his death, he said.
Mr Bartlett said a public defender had been appointed to the case, and had written submissions to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions asking the charge be withdrawn.
He had, Mr Bartlett said, detailed concerns about the police interview with the boy and concerns about the cause of death.
It was also the defence view that in this case there was no strike causing the death that the law required, he said.
“He was innocent of this charge,” Mr Bartlett said.
“This is an incident between two brothers, a bit of boyish push and shove.
“That’s what happened and that’s what it led to, tragically.”
Mr Bartlett said the charge had caused the boy and his family a “great deal” of emotional distress, pain and worry.
“He’s got to live with what happened to his brother,” he said.
Mr Bartlett said his client had no criminal record.
The 16-year-old had pleaded not guilty, and was due to face trial on Monday in the NSW District Court in Queanbeyan. But the Crown prosecutor told the court the charge had been withdrawn.
The court heard the boy, who was not present but was legally represented, had been on bail with a curfew since last year.
Judge Chris Hoy confirmed the boy was no longer subject to bail.