First free, then re-arrested, now facing deportation

17th August 2017 9:40 AM
UPDATED 7:56 PM
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UPDATE: DANIEL Maxwell has been re-arrested after a bizarre bureaucratic bungle that saw him released from custody just hours earlier.

A Federal Government spokesperson confirmed Maxwell's arrest this evening, pending deportation.

"The individual's visa has been cancelled and he has been detained," the spokesperson said.

EARLIER: HE started the fight that ended with Cole Miller knocked unconscious, fatally injured in Fortitude Valley.

But Daniel Jermaine Lee Maxwell, who celebrated his 21st birthday by picking fights with strangers, will serve no more jail time after pleading guilty to affray and assault.

Mr Miller, a Sunshine Coast 18-year-old just out of High School, died after Maxwell's friend Armstrong Renata blindsided him with a coward punch on January 3, 2016.

What happened around the Chinatown mall that night "was appalling on every level," Justice Ann Lyons said at Maxwell's sentencing in Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.

"You started it all. You asked for a fight."

A portrait of 18 year-old one-punch victim Cole Miller is placed near the coffin during his funeral service in Brisbane, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. Cole died in hospital on January 4 from massive brain trauma a day after allegedly being hit in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.
A portrait of 18 year-old one-punch victim Cole Miller is placed near the coffin during his funeral service in Brisbane, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. Cole died in hospital on January 4 from massive brain trauma a day after allegedly being hit in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. Dan Peled/AAP

She said Maxwell approached Mr Miller and Mr Miller's friend Nick Pace for no good reason.

Maxwell, a New Zealander who had moved from Victoria to Brisbane just a fortnight earlier, challenged Mr Miller to a fight.

The court heard Miller smiled, jokingly agreed. The teenager was a lot younger and a lot smaller than Maxwell, the judge said, and did not actually intend to fight.

"On every level it was a cowardly act."

Maxwell had a crack at the teen, then hit Mr Pace in the chest. And when Renata stepped in with a coward punch, Mr Miller never regained consciousness.

She said Maxwell left the scene after the fatal attack but to his credit, two of Maxwell's friends stayed.

One of Maxwell's friends had already intervened twice earlier that night, as the 21-year-old provoked fights in a drunken night out.

"It's clear that whilst there has not been bodily harm [to Mr Pace] you have caused a great deal of harm to him," Justice Lyons said.

 

"Like a brother" to grieving friend

 

MR MILLER was "like a brother" to Mr Pace, who still could not come to terms with the loss.

"Mr Maxwell, you do indeed bear a great deal of moral culpability," Justice Lyons added.

"Nothing you did that night was honourable. Nothing you did puts you in a good light."

"You were laughing as you left…Your lack of respect, your lack of empathy, is difficult to fathom."

Matty Johnston overlooks caps and swimwear, water polo players have hung over the pool fence in memory of Cole Miller at Kawana Aquatic Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Matty Johnston overlooks caps and swimwear, water polo players have hung over the pool fence in memory of Cole Miller at Kawana Aquatic Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily Patrick Woods

Maxwell was sentenced to six months jail for affray, and eighteen months for the assaults on Mr Miller and Mr Pace.

The sentence was suspended.

"That does not mean you'll be released today."

The parties then argued about what sort of "operational period" ought to be applied to Maxwell, as he remained in the dock.

The judge then decided on an 18 month operational period.

Authorities have issues around Maxwell's immigration status to determine.

Maxwell was led out of the dock back into custody, where the details of his suspended sentence will be processed.

"It's clear what a promising young man Mr Miller was," the Judge added.

 

Just 30 seconds difference and Cole Miller might have lived

 

DESPITE starting the fight, the prosecution could not prove Maxwell "enabled" Renata's behaviour.

Nonetheless, "the death of Cole Miller was a consequence" of Maxwell picking the fight, prosecutor David Meredith said.

Mr Miller was attacked for no good reason - he just happened to be in the area at the time, the prosecutor said.

"This incident would not have occurred" if the groups had been just twenty or thirty seconds apart, he added.

In one of the previous incidents that night, Maxwell challenged a stranger, who declined to fight.

Maxwell then extended his hand, pretending he intended to shake hands, before punching that man, Mr Meredith said.

Justice Lyons asked for clarification on how drunk Maxwell was on the night in question.

Mr Meredith said Maxwell was "belligerent" and under the influence of alcohol, as were his friends.

Maxwell had been in custody 592 days.

He applied for bail but in March 2016, the Border Force threatened to take away Maxwell's visa if he was released from custody.

Maxwell had no previous criminal history.

The maximum penalty for affray was one year. The maximum for assault was three years.

Mr Meredith said he and the defence discussed the new charges last week.

Two new indictments were presented on Thursday morning.

Maxwell initially appeared uncertain how to plead to the two new indictments, before pleading guilty.

Maxwell and Renata did not know Mr Miller or his friend, but Mr Meredith said Maxwell initiated the assault before Renata struck Mr Miller.

Paddle out at Mooloolaba Beach for the rememberance of Cole Miller. His brother Mitchelle Miller. (January 17, 2016. one punch victim Cole Miller).
Paddle out at Mooloolaba Beach for the rememberance of Cole Miller. His brother Mitchelle Miller. (January 17, 2016. one punch victim Cole Miller). Patrick Woods

Mr Meredith said Renata then hit Mr Miller with a punch the teenager would not have seen coming.

"The blow must have been a strong one," the prosecutor said.

"Maxwell accepts that it was he who started the fight," he added.

"It was not nice what my mate done," Maxwell told police when questioned about the fatal assault.

Yet Mr Meredith said Maxwell was "morally culpable" for the assault.

 

"Regret and remorse" after the night lives changed forever

 

DEFENCE counsel Callan Cassidy said common assaults were usually dealt with by fines.

"Whilst this case is somewhat unusual…Cole Miller unfortunately died [but] Maxwell is not criminally responsible for that."

Mr Cassidy said Renata "chose to commit the fatal act".

Renata pleaded guilty last year to unlawful striking causing death.

That was the same charge Maxwell had been facing, before guilty pleas on less serious assault and affray charges were accepted on Thursday.

Mr Cassidy said Maxwell was a New Zealand citizen whose parents separated when Maxwell was two.

Friends of his moved to Victoria, and he followed when he was about 18.

He was involved in rugby league and worked as a barber and in a factory.

He turned 21 on January 2 last year.

"Prior to this night he wasn't a big drinker," the defence barrister said.

"He regrets his conduct on that night…he is deeply remorseful for his own conduct on this evening and has resolved not to drink alcohol in the future, recognising it is a problem for him."

Mr Cassidy suggested a sentence of no longer than four months, to be suspended.

It was now possible Maxwell could go to "immigration detention", Justice Lyons said.

This case was "very different" from other assaults and a "very unusual" situation, the judge added.

She was not persuaded a four month term was sufficient.

"It's the fact that he was looking for a fight…he wanted to hurt someone. He wanted to cause some harm."

Renata is yet to be sentenced.

 

-NewsRegional