Troubled actor Matthew Newton failed to appear in court today on charges of assaulting a taxi driver, with his lawyer saying his mental health issues would be aggravated by the media attention.
The 35-year-old son of Bert and Patti Newton is charged with punching a 66-year-old cabbie in an incident in Crows Nest in Sydney's North last December.
But Newton's lawyer Chris Murphy told North Sydney Local Court he thought it best his client, who he said suffers from bipolar disorder and is obsessive compulsive, avoid the court appearance and media attention.
Evidence given by two eye witnesses and 867 frame-by-frame photographs taken by a nearby CCTV camera "absolutely absolve" Newton of the charges, Mr Murphy told the court.
But the police prosecutor, Daniel McMahon, said: "We don't agree that the photographic evidence exculpates the defendant."
Newton's lawyer cited his client's mental illness and "weak" police evidence, including an "uninjured" taxi driver, as two reasons for making this "a very complicated case."
"I, by my nature, would love to run the defence case but I must put my client's interest first and I don't think a five- to six-day court case would be very fair to him," he said.
"He could easily qualify to be dealt with under section 32 [of the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990]." Under section 32, charges can be dismissed, either entirely or with conditions, such as that the person must undergo treatment.
"In my forty years… I think this is the weakest assault case I've ever appeared in," Mr Murphy said.
Mr Newton is charged with two counts of common assault. The case was adjourned until March 27.