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Judge says Crown failed to prove Corner Brook firefighter wasn’t acting in self defence in altercation with coworker

Kirby Hamlyn enters provincial court to listen to the judge’s decision in his assault causing bodily harm trial in Corner Brook Thursday.
Kirby Hamlyn enters provincial court to listen to the judge’s decision in his assault causing bodily harm trial in Corner Brook Thursday. - Gary Kean

After some tense moments listening to the judge’s analysis of his case, the relief felt by Kirby Hamlyn was obvious as he was acquitted of assaulting a fellow firefighter Thursday.

Hamlyn was charged with assault causing bodily harm after punching Mark Griffin in the face during the Corner Brook Fire Department’s Firefighter’s Ball at the Blomidon Golf and Country Club in October 2017.

After a recent three-day trial at provincial court, during which Hamlyn testified he acted in self defence in hitting Griffin, Judge Wayne Gorman rendered his decision to acquit Hamlyn Thursday.

Hamlyn, who was accompanied in the courtroom by a number of supporters, broke into tears upon hearing the decision.

That Hamlyn struck Griffin, causing him to bleed profusely and fracturing his nose, was conceded by the defence and supported by the evidence of those who testified. Still, Gorman said the fact most of the witnesses were co-workers who had differing levels of intoxication by alcohol at the time of the unexpected event contributed to making it hard to decipher what actually took place.

Gorman was told Hamlyn had left the clubhouse after another firefighter twisted a button off his new shirt. Another firefighter followed him out, pleading with him not to leave the party.

Hamlyn, who testified in his own defence, said Griffin came outside and told Hamlyn and the firefighter urging him to stay to “grow the f*** up.” Hamlyn said he told Griffin to mind his own business, which Hamlyn said seemed to precipitate Griffin preparing to strike Hamlyn with a clenched fist.

Hamlyn said that’s when he struck Griffin in an attempt to defend himself from being hit.

In his testimony, Griffin said he could not recall much from that night and did not recall being struck.

In his decision on the case, Gorman noted that, whether it was due to intoxication or the concussion he suffered, Griffin was unable to provide any significant evidence to help the judge determine if the Crown had proven its case against Hamlyn.

Gorman also noted that inconsistencies between some of the evidence given by other witnesses about what happened between the two men was irreconcilable.

Gorman noted it was up to Crown attorney Trina Simms to prove Hamlyn did not act in self defence. The judge felt the Crown failed to show Hamlyn did not have a reasonable belief that Griffin was going to hit him, that he did not strike Griffin for the purpose of defending himself or that Hamlyn’s actions were unreasonable.

“Though I have some concerns about portions of Mr. Hamlyn’s evidence and the evidence of others who attempted to fashion their evidence solely to support Mr. Hamlyn at the expense of the truth, the totality of the evidence presented in this case causes me to have a reasonable doubt as to whether or not Mr. Hamlyn was acting in defence of the person when he struck Mr. Griffin,” said Gorman.

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