MP's son found not guilty of indecent assault

AN indecent assault charge against  Jack Fitzgibbon was quashed yesterday in East Maitland District Court.

Judge John North upheld the appeal against Mr Fitzgibbon’s conviction in Cessnock Local Court in June.

The 21-year-old son of Hunter federal MP Joel Fitzgibbon pleaded not guilty to the charge and said he did not put his hand up the 19-year-old alleged victim’s skirt after midnight on September 11 last year.

He was accused of touching her   on the outside of her underwear.

Mr Fitzgibbon’s parents were in court to support him.

The appeal reviewed the original case during which Mr Fitzgibbon admitted that he sat on the woman’s  lap in the beer garden of the Cessnock Hotel. 

He denied being attracted to her  despite admitting that he rubbed her thighs and told her that she had nice ‘‘shapely legs’’.

Mr Fitzgibbon encouraged the woman  to hit him after the alleged incident, but denied in court it was admission of guilt.

In upholding the appeal Judge North said that he had reviewed security camera footage from the night in question and it was inconsistent with the woman’s account of what happened.

‘‘It’s difficult to understand how the appellant could have committed the offence in the manner as described,’’ he said.

Judge North said the prosecution had relied solely on the testimony of the alleged victim and there was no DNA or forensic evidence to support their case.

‘‘It’s perhaps highly suspicious that something occurred which caused the complainant to complain.

‘‘I cannot in the all the circumstances be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant assaulted the complainant.’’

That, combined with the good character of Mr Fitzgibbon, convinced  Judge North to uphold the appeal.

Mr Fitzgibbon was originally fined $2000 and placed on a bond for two years.

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