TWO young men involved in an altercation with a retired police officer which led to the man’s femur breaking have avoided conviction.
The Wodonga Magistrates Court on Thursday heard the case against Alex McKenzie and Kyle Brett Harvey was “a difficult one”.
There were widely differing versions of what occurred during the incident at Wodonga Plaza on February 22.
While there was no dispute the former officer was badly hurt and forced to spend a week in hospital, with ongoing physiotherapy, the exact circumstances were clouded by differing versions of those involved and witnesses.
And despite occurring in a shopping centre covered with cameras, the incident was not captured on CCTV.
The pair had gone to the shopping centre about midday.
The former officer said he saw McKenzie stealing boxer shorts and then confronted him.
Harvey argued he had been grabbed by the 64-year-old retiree and fell to the ground, landing on top of him.
He denied kicking the man and said he had been on the ground when the victim was kicked.
McKenzie also denied kicking the victim, who was with his wife at the time.
One independent witness said the pair “appeared” to have been kicking the man.
Harvey ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of assault and a charge of possessing cannabis, and was fined $100.
McKenzie was ordered to perform 60 hours of community work for his role, and for another violent attack on an innocent man outside a KFC outlet.
The 18-year-old broke a man’s jaw outside the fast food venue on March 8, having mistaken him for his brother.
He later abused the man on social media before realising he had the wrong person and apologising.
McKenzie told magistrate David Faram he was “in a very dark place at that time”.
“Life can be hard,” the magistrate replied.
“But to react in this way is clearly inexplicable.”
Mr Faram wanted to give McKenzie a chance to redeem himself.
“This sort of stuff can't happen again,” he said.
“It can not happen again.”