Nicholas Sharp
Nicholas Sharp

Head stomper found guilty

HEAD STOMPER Nicholas Sharp has spent his first night in Grafton jail after a Lismore District Courtjury found the former hotel bouncer guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to a Northern Rivers man at Byron Bay in March last year.

Sharp, 27, of Ocean Shores, was taken into custody yesterday afternoon after the jury’s guilty verdict that followed a six-week trial.

Sharp faces a maximum sentence of 25 years, with a standard non-parole term of seven years jail, after assaulting Pottsville resident Dallas Arnold in an attack outside the Great Northern Hotel on March 7.

His two co-accused, Dean Phelps, 26, of Suffolk Park, and Lee Funnell, 26, of Brunswick Heads, now living at Glen Innes, were found guilty of in company assaulting Nathan Spratt, of the Gold Coast, causing him actual bodily harm.

The two victims are friends and had been attending a buck’s night celebration in Byron Bay on the night of the assaults.

Sharp, Phelps and Funnell were all acquitted on the charge of affray, in which they were accused by the Crown of causing fear to people at the scene of the assaults.

Phelps, a physiotherapist, and Funnell, a labourer and sportsman, were both granted conditional bail until they are sentenced next month.

The two men were ordered by Judge James Black not to visit Byron Bay or frequent licensed premises.

When Sharp was led from the dock by Corrective Services officers he gave girlfriend Lauren Newman and his father the thumbs-up sign, then gave a grin and the thumbs-up to Detective Labeeb Saad, the police officer in charge of the case against the three men.

Ms Newman, a gym instructor, was visibly upset by the guilty verdict as she left the courtroom.

Her boyfriend and his two mates had been on a night out in Byron Bay with friends celebrating Ms Newman’s birthday when the evening was marred by the violence involving the men outside the Great Northern Hotel.

From evidence heard in the trial, a man, possibly Mr Spratt, made a comment to Ms Newman about her ‘sexy dress’ at the bar of the Beach Hotel which was apparently overheard by Funnell.

A minor scuffle then took place involving Funnell, Mr Spratt and Mr Arnold and all three men were told by security to leave.

Some time later, as Mr Arnold and Mr Spratt were intending to enter the Great Northern Hotel some distance away from the Beach Hotel along Jonson Street, two fights took place – one involving Sharp and Mr Arnold, and the other involving Phelps, Funnell and Mr Spratt.

Witnesses described seeing Sharp throwing punches then ‘stomp’ the head of Mr Arnold as he lay injured on the cement pavement.

A nurse at the scene said she saw Sharp about to stomp the man’s head a second time before she intervened.

Mr Arnold received serious injuries and was unconscious. He remained in a coma in the Gold Coast hospital for five days with a total of 16 days spent in intensive care.

A doctor who treated Mr Arnold at the Emergency Department of Byron Bay hospital described his head as being ‘stoved’ in.

She also described his worried and injured friend Mr Spratt as polite and behaving like a gentleman to medical staff.

Sharp, a well-built man, maintained his innocence during his trial of intentionally stomping the head of Mr Arnold, claiming that any contact with the victim’s head had been accidental.

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