Thursday, January 11, 2007

That's not a Knife!

Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil has been found not guilty of carrying an offensive weapon after producing a machete during a heated stand-off in Darwin.

The movie veteran, who starred in Storm Boy and Crocodile Dundee, was arrested in July last year after an incident at a friend's house on Wood Street in the city's centre. He was accused of grabbing a machete when an argument started between a group of people over his drinking.

Gulpilil pleaded not guilty to carrying an offensive weapon without a lawful excuse during a brief trial in Darwin Magistrates Court on Monday. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail. However he he did admit to pulling out the machete during the dispute.

The 54-year-old said the knife was in his bag because he had recently returned to Darwin after filming in Kakadu National Park, where he had used the machete to carve and make bush tents.
Magistrate Tanya Fong Lim today dismissed the charge against the star, saying Gulpilil used the machete for cultural reasons.

"The defendant is an artist and a carver. He used the machete to carve didgeridoos, totem poles and strip stringy bark for paintings,"

she told Darwin Magistrates Court.

"There is also evidence he used it to help him build shelters while out bush, like he had done shortly before arriving in Darwin. I accept the defendant's explanation for his possession of the machete."

Really? Then this must set huge precedents for carrying dangerous weapons. What other 'cultural reasons' can imaginative defence lawyers dream up next. Even say he did have a genuine reason for carrying the knife, the fact that he pulled it out of his bag is surely provocative.

Let off by a cringing self-loathing magistrate or a star-struck magistrate?