The only adult involved in a horror late-night attack on a Sydney father of one has been sentenced in court. WARNING: Graphic
The only adult involved in a horrific attack that left a father lying unconscious on a Sydney footpath with his face carved open by a knife will remain behind bars for a year.
Jalen Morrison pleaded guilty to his involvement in the brutal attack on Brett Halcro, who was set upon by a group including several schoolboys after a girl called them and claimed “I’ve been groped”.
He was beaten senseless outside a Pyrmont apartment building and left for dead on July 31, 2020.
Morrison, now 19, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company in September.
Court documents reveal Morrison may have inadvertently set in motion the chain of events that led to the sadistic bashing by stealing drugs belonging to a man Mr Halcro was chatting with outside the Dunkirk Hotel.
He was not charged with any stealing offences.
The teenager faced Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court via audio visual link from John Morony Correctional Centre on Wednesday for sentencing.
He did not show any emotion from his video suite as he listened to magistrate Brett Shields read the “extensive” details of the horrific attack.
Prosecutor Callan Austin told the court that the offending was a “grotesque example of a gang bashing of a sole victim”.
“The group beat the victim unconscious and left him in a state without any assistance,” he said.
Criminal defence barrister Evan James told the court the most serious offences against Morrison had been withdrawn.
Mr James said Morrison had no “pre-planning” of the offending and it was his first time in custody.
The court was told the teenager had been charged with an unrelated matter of possessing a prohibited drug, in regards to 55g of cannabis, while on bail for the assault charge.
“I accept Mr Halcro was left unconscious but this was an unplanned spontaneous offence,” Mr James said.
“This was not a decision to target a specific person at a specific time to avoid detection.”
The court was told Morrison had a “falling out” with his prior group of friends, which led to him socialising with the co-accused.
“He had the former social group and a criminal-free history, (he) associates with this group and starts offending,” Mr James said.
Mr Shields said there had been some element of “planning” in regards to the attack.
“There was a level of planning, not long occurring but some form of custodial sentence is the only obvious outcome,” he said.
“Mr Halcro was subjected to a vicious assault. The assault caused substantial injuries and required surgical treatment.”
Mr Shields said there was a need to recognise not only the harm to the victim but also to the community.
“People ought to know they can walk along the streets of Sydney without being either subject to an assault of this kind or having to recognise and be in the vicinity of this,” he said.
Morrison was sentenced to one year and nine months imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year.
The sentence was backdated to September 1 considering time served in custody, meaning he will be eligible for parole on September 1, 2022.
The possess prohibited drug charge was dismissed.
Mr Halcro, now 37, was left in intensive care after the onslaught from a gang of six to seven teenagers, some of whom attended exclusive private schools across the city, including Barker College.
According to the fact sheet, the teenagers were hosting a party at an Airbnb apartment on Wattle Crescent, Pyrmont on the night of the incident.
A children’s court has previously been told one boy, 15, messaged his friends, saying he had been drinking and “f—ing fed” Mr Halcro “so many times” after being told someone had grabbed a girl’s breast.
“Stomped on him and gutted his head he got knocked out after I bottle him in the head,” the boy wrote, according to court documents.
“I put the shattered bottle in his stomach and then (another boy) slit his face like 15 times and stabbed him in the eye. He stuck it in his eye. Put it in deeper. And swivelled the knife around. So funny.”
Morrison is not accused of stabbing Mr Halcro, but he was the first member of the group to interact with the victim, running into the Melbourne father of one outside the Dunkirk Hotel bottle shop about 10.20pm.
The Asquith teen struck up a conversation with Mr Halcro and another man, who produced a small bag of MDMA while a young girl joined the group.
The third man flashed the drugs to Morrison, who grabbed them and ran back towards the apartment and then “celebrated” stealing them with another teen
Mr Halcro tried to speak to the girl and followed her about 200m down Pyrmont Bridge Rd where he was confronted by another male linked to the party.
A witness told police the party was interrupted when one of the boys received a phone call from one of the girls who said “I’ve been groped”, prompting the boys to tell the guests to leave out of fear police would “show up”, the fact sheet stated.
Two girls who were guests at the shindig told police they saw five boys from the party run into the street, one with black gloves and a black face mask. He would later pull a knife and take to Mr Halcro’s face.
Two other teen girls were walking away from the scrum when one of the boys yelled out: “Is this the one that raped you?”
“Yeah, that’s the one,” a blonde girl replied, according to the fact sheet.
A party guest later told police there had been six or seven boys attacking the man as he lay on the ground but some “backed off”, including Morrison, and ran down the street as the attack continued.
Morrison was arrested at the Wattle Crescent apartment building about 2am on August 1, 2020, still wearing the same clothes he had on during the attack.
His DNA also matched samples from the crime scene. Over the next four days seven other boys were also tracked down and charged by police.
After the attack the younger boys exchanged sick texts bragging about their exploits, with one saying it was “so funny” when Mr Halcro’s eye was pierced with a blade wielded by a 16-year-old male.
“His eye was like a coin slot,” the schoolboy said. “And then it just turned into a golf course hole haha.”
Morrison was not involved in the texting.
The boy who stabbed Mr Halcro, now 17, has been committed for sentence in the District Court after he pleaded guilty to charges including causing grievous bodily harm to a person with intent.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
A further five boys have been sentenced in the children’s court.