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A P.E.I. man who said he kicked and punched another man he thought was attacking his friend has been found not guilty of assault causing bodily harm.
Robert Morgan MacNeill, 24, previously pleaded not guilty, and the matter went to trial before Judge John Douglas, who delivered his decision by phone Wednesday.
In giving his decision, Douglas found that a case was made out that MacNeill was acting in the belief he was defending his friend from an assault.
Because of measures in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Douglas delivered his verdict without the accused or any of the lawyers present in the courtroom.
Instead, they listened in by phone along with a victim services worker and a reporter from The Guardian.
Reviewing the evidence from the trial, Douglas said all of the witnesses were at a party at MacNeill’s home where people were doing drugs and drinking.
During the trial, the court heard there was an altercation that led to the complainant getting kicked out.
Once outside, there was a further altercation, although witness testimony differed on what happened.
It was when MacNeill intervened in the altercation outside that the complainant suffered injuries, including from several punches and a kick to the head.
The complainant testified MacNeill hit him about eight times, but that differed from the accused’s version of events.
MacNeill testified he went outside to find the complainant on top of his friend and tried to pull him off but wasn’t able to.
He admitted kicking the complainant in the head and punching him but testified he didn’t think it was more than twice.
The complainant admitted he was drunk and had used cocaine and cannabis that night but said the other man was the aggressor.
During his testimony, the complainant said MacNeill’s friend punched him outside. He also said he punched that man several times and pinned him to the ground when the man went at him again.
Given the circumstances, including that MacNeill tried unsuccessfully to get the complainant off his friend, Douglas said he found the accused not guilty.