Cameron Hunt admits to assault

2011-07-15 00:00

SENIOR Pietermaritzburg advocate Cameron Hunt (51) pleaded guilty in the regional court yesterday to a charge of common assault and admitted he punched fellow advocate Mergen Chetty twice in his face, knocking him unconscious, at a function at the Pietermaritzburg Advocates’ Chambers on June 11 last year.

Hunt said he believed his wife, advocate Penny Hunt, was potentially in danger from Chetty, although he now accepts he was wrong.

In terms of an agreement reached between the state and defence following “difficult negotiations” yesterday Hunt’s sentence was a caution and discharge.

Hunt has paid R65 000 compensation to Chetty arising from the assault.

He also apologised to Chetty and to the advocates’ profession in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the plea read to Free State-based regional magistrate Mahindra Daya by Hunt’s advocate, Mike Hellens SC, alcohol played a role in the incident. It occurred at a function held to bid farewell to newly appointed Eastern Cape Judge Rob Griffiths and watch the opening of the 2010 Football World Cup and match between South Africa and Mexico.

It was stated that while Chetty “had found himself drunk” at the time of the incident the Hunts were “considerably behind in terms of alcohol consumed” as they arrived later at the party.

According to the plea, Penny Hunt “caused some whisky and water to fall” on Chetty’s head when Cameron Hunt had left the room to go to the toilet.

Chetty was “very upset” and left the room angrily.

On his return he began remonstrating with Penny Hunt about her actions and “began swearing at Penny Hunt and demanding of her never to do that to me again”.

He did not accept an apology offered by Penny Hunt.

“When the accused became aware that the vituperative exchange emanating from Chetty was directed at his wife the accused demanded of Chetty whether he was swearing at his wife.”

The details of what was said were not fully spelt out save that words such as “f**k you” and “don’t f*****g do that to me again” were uttered.

Chetty’s response, according to the plea was “angry and uncontrite”.

“In the course of this very brief event Hunt genuinely formed the subjective view that Chetty would attempt to physically approach his wife with the potential of harming her in some way.

“The circumstances were highly charged and very unusual. The role of alcohol had some part to play in the somewhat extreme circumstances in which the parties by now found themselves … Chetty did not in fact intend to attack Hunt’s wife.

“Hunt’s actions which followed would have been reasonable putative private defence of his wife, had he reacted to Chetty in a way less severe than he in fact did react. He in fact reacted by punching Chetty twice in the face.

“This caused Chetty to fall down,” the plea stated.

Due to his fall Chetty hit his head on the tiled floor, becoming unconscious “for about five minutes”.

He suffered “bruising to the occiput (back of head), bruising and bleeding in the mouth, concussion (requiring an x-ray and CT scan), and loose lower incisors, which required a visit to the dentist.”

State advocate Gert Nel told the court Chetty was in “full agreement” with the plea and sentence arrived at.

Daya said that having regard to all the facts he believed the sentence is just.

He told Hunt that as a senior advocate he “should have known better” and should consider himself “very lucky”.

“Its a harsh lesson you have learnt … Perhaps anger management may help.

This is something you might want to consider,” he added.

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