‘Depressed’ teen has press attack charges dropped
The far-right teenager who attacked two journalists at a Fraser Anning press conference has had his charges dismissed because he has anxiety, gambling problems and depression.
His mental health is so poor, a court heard, that his mum had to take him to the Fraser Anning event where the incident occurred.
Max Towns was 18 when he allegedly made obscene comments to Eliza Barr at the press conference in Cronulla in April.
According to police facts, Towns then attacked photographer Dylan Robinson who had intervened and taken pictures of the private school boy after hearing the slurs.
Towns swiped at Mr Robinson's camera, tore his shirt and struck his face before throwing punches that failed to connect with his target. The incident was captured on video.
He previously pleaded not guilty to offensive conduct, stalk or intimidate and assault.
The now-19-year-old's barrister William Barber told Sutherland Local Court his client comes from a "respected family" in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
He had attended Waverley College on a rugby league scholarship but never went professional.
Magistrate Michael Love, reviewing footage of the attack, said Towns has been "aggressive the whole time".
"He was moving into alleged victim as opposed to swiping and moving away," he said.
"He's a young man who had a troubled past," Mr Barber said.
"He had learning difficulties and certainly a psychological condition."
Mr Barber called the attack "out of character" and said Towns has no history of violence or criminal record but admitted he had previously stopped taking his prescribed medicine.
He also said his client is so anxious in social situations his mum had to take him to the event.
"He finds it difficult in social gatherings that's why she went with him," he said.
"He's paranoid, frightened in those situations."
Mr Barber also noted Towns' gambling problems and said the media attention had been difficult on his mental health.
"There's been a lot of publicity, it's put enormous strain on the family - the Prime Minister commented on it," he said.
"It's a very unusual situation."
Ultimately the magistrate dismissed the charges and ordered Towns to follow reasonable instructions of his psychiatrist and psychologist.
"If there is a repeat incident you may not get this opportunity again and you may face the full force of the law," he warned Towns.
Towns spent the day chewing gum in the court waiting room and staring down The Daily Telegraph's reporter before flashing the OK hand gesture.
His grandmother and mother shushed him as he called out "who do you work for?" as Mr Barber was approached for comment.
The barrister politely declined but noted he was "very happy" with the outcome.
Towns exited court into his grandmother's car with a jacket covering his face.