Hammer. Tradie's tools. Generic image.
Hammer. Tradie's tools. Generic image.

New trial for horror hammer attack accused

THE Queensland Court of Appeal has ruled a Rockhampton man convicted of attempting to murder a woman with a claw hammer should be granted a new trial.

Noa Ronnie Etheridge, 26, was sentenced to 16 years' jail at Rockhampton Supreme Court after a jury found him guilty of the attempted murder of Kerry Gittins in her Koongal home in 2018.

Etheridge had taken a cocktail of drugs when he went to Ms Gittins' house and pretended he needed water for his son before smashing her over the head with a hammer, leaving her with multiple skull and cheek fractures and broken teeth.

Etheridge, who was already on parole for the hit-and-run death of 17-year-old Jamal Lawton, then stole her wallet and Nissan car.

During his trial in 2019, Etheridge claimed the Xanax, LSD and ice he had taken left him with no memory of the attack and that he assaulted Ms Gittins with the intention of robbing her, not killing her.

His lawyer, Andrew Hoare, said evidence Ms Gittins gave to a police officer from her hospital bed - that Etheridge had threatened her with the hammer while demanding her wallet and keys - further strengthened the robbery case.

But the Crown successfully argued that because Etheridge had hit her with a hammer at least twice, his motives were more sinister.

Etheridge challenged the jury's guilty verdict in the Court of Appeal, arguing that the judge had reminded the jury of the Crown's case during his summing up but not the defence counsel's case, which could have affected his chance of acquittal.

This week the court allowed the appeal and set aside the guilty verdict of attempted murder.

Etheridge will face a new trial for attempted murder at a date yet to be fixed. - NewsRegional


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