R v William John Lovel (Supreme Court of Victoria, Hollingworth J, 16 October 2013, reported in Shepparton News, 22 October 2013 at p. 1 and Campaspe News, 22 October 2013 at pp. 1 and 3)

Hat-tip to journalists Riahn Smith and Elaine Cooney whose reports provided material for this casenote.


On 1 October 2012 the defendant attended a function at the Tatura Hotel. While there he became involved in an altercation with Terence Keenan. In the altercation he punched Mr Keenan, who was rendered unconscious and died thirteen days later without regaining consciousness.

Mr Lovel was charged with manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act as a result of the incident.


The matter was heard before Hollingworth J and a jury of five men and seven women in the Supreme Court at Shepparton. Mr Lovel pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

The Crown alleged that the deceased was struck in an act of anger and retaliation and pointed to alleged inconsistencies in the histories given by the accused. The evidence of two lay witnesses was that the deceased had brought his fist back as if to prepare to hit the defendant, who was however able to punch first. On this basis the counsel for the defendant argued that his action had been in self defence and were therefore lawful.


After deliberating for a little under three hours, the jury acquitted Mr Lovel of manslaughter.

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