Bondi attacker gets maximum five years for GBH

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AN AUSTRALIAN man cleared of killing a British holiday-maker in a fight near Bondi Beach, Sydney, was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday for causing grievous bodily harm.

Brian Hagland, 28, a postman from Cricklewood, north-west London, and a cousin of EastEnders star Sid Owen, fell to his death under a bus in September 1996 after he was attacked by Aaron Martin while walking near Bondi with his girlfriend, Connie Casey.

A New South Wales supreme court jury acquitted Martin of murder and manslaughter after a trial in July attended by Mr Hagland's parents and Ms Casey.

In the same court, Justice Carolyn Simpson handed down the maximum sentence for GBH, with a recommendation that Martin serve a minimum of two years and three months.

The trial jury dismissed prosecution claims that Martin threw Mr Hagland in front of the bus in an unprovoked attack.

Passing sentence, Judge Simpson said: "The fact is the jury was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Martin was guilty of any offence causing the death."

She said that the most likely scenario was that the two men had got into a brawl after Martin made an insulting remark about Mr Hagland's girlfriend. The couple had spent eight months in Australia and had been about to leave for New Zealand for the next stage of their trip.

Martin's friend, Sean Cushman, who helped him into a taxi after the fight, was given five years probation yesterday for aiding and abetting him.