Magistrate Herbert Panton has found 37 year old Owen Parham not guilty of attempted robbery, harm, aggravated assault and going equipped for crime, but he must pay a fine for resisting lawful arrest by Special Constable James Stewart.
It is an unusual story because the two men tell very different tales of their encounter on October 12, 2012, at Stewart’s farm in Ladyville. According to James Stewart, he was looking for his cows when he saw a man identified as Owen Parham hiding in the bushes. He did not find anything incriminating on him during a search but Mr Parham was carrying a crowbar and canvas, and Mr Stewart deduced that he may have been planning a burglary.
But when James Stewart detained and attempted to escort Owen Parham to Police, Mr Parham turned around and punched him in the face and they began to struggle. Mr Stewart said Owen Parham was trying to go for his firearm, and so Mr Stewart shot him twice in the left leg and once in the right leg.
Owen Parham, also testifying, claimed he knew James Stewart (but not as a special constable), and they had agreed that Mr Parham would sell Mr Stewart nine pounds of high-grade marijuana from Mexico valued at $800 per pound. Receiving $1,500 as a down-payment, Owen Parham went and bought the drugs, and on his return via bus he was instructed to stop off and meet James Stewart at his farm. After checking the drugs, James Stewart went into his pocket for what Owen Parham thought was the rest of the money, but he allegedly pulled out a firearm instead and this was when they began to struggle and Mr Parham was shot.
Magistrate Panton acquitted Owen Parham of all charges, except resisting lawful arrest, for which he must pay a $500 fine. But Owen Parham is currently incarcerated on firearm offences for 5 years, and does not leave jail until March of 2017. He will therefore serve a default sentence of two months concurrently with his current jail term.
On leaving court, Owen Parham reportedly threatened James Stewart and this was reported to the court, meaning he could face additional charges.