THE fact that a youth who admitted to fatally bashing a stranger in an unprovoked attack was acquitted of murder and manslaughter made a mockery of the community's outrage about city violence, the victim's family said.
Jonathon James Little, 21, walked free from the Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday night after beating a murder case brought by police over the death of David Stevens, 26.
Stevens was walking down Brunswick Street Mall in Fortitude Valley in the early hours of December 4, 2005, when he was punched in the head by Little then kicked between the head and shoulder as he lay on the ground. He suffered swelling and bleeding in his brain and died two days later.
Little fled the scene but was picked up by police half an hour later.
In taped interviews, he said he was angry while arguing with his girlfriend on his mobile phone when Stevens said "some smart arse alec thing".
Little could not recall details about the remark but he said it caused him to snap. He admitted Stevens had not raised his hands or threatened him.
"I was just in the mood, he chose the wrong person at the wrong moment," Little told police.
In her instructions to the jurors, Justice Anthe Philippides said they had to acquit Little of both murder and manslaughter if they believed Little and an ordinary person in his position could not have predicted death as an outcome of his actions. That is, if they believed it was an "accident".
The jury acquitted Little on both charges.
Stevens' family is still struggling to come to terms with the result.
"Every weekend we hear of violent crimes and bashings on the news and we all complain about violence on our streets but how can we make our streets safer when our legal system allows these offenders to walk free," Stevens's older sister Tania said. "This cannot be allowed to happen again because then we as a society are saying it is OK to punch and kick total strangers on the streets and cause their death."
Little's first trial was aborted after a jury member was allegedly overheard on a train saying they were going to "hang him from the gallows".