How Does the Criminal Law Deal with Glassing: Case Study at Woy Woy Courthouse

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You probably already know this, but just in case, glassing is where someone uses a glass/bottle as a weapon.

It has unfortunately become a feature of alcohol-related violence in recent years.

In fact, just after 12.30am this morning X Factor judge ‘Redfoo’ sustained a cut to his head after a man allegedly threw a glass at him while being held by police at the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay, Sydney.

While certainly not as rampant as the media may have us believe, glassings can have devastating ramifications and happen enough for us to take note and be concerned.

The government has tried many strategies to minimise alcohol fuelled violence like the king hit laws and the introduction of plastic cups in bars, pubs and clubs.

In 2008 George Street’s Star Bar was forced to serve drinks in plastic after 11:30 at night because of their history of violent assaults.

There is good news, though. Glassing is in decline.

The latest report from BOCSAR, published in June this year shows that a glass bottle was used as a weapon in NSW 86 times in the last year (April 2013 – March 2014).

This is actually a marked decrease since the 2009-2010 period, where this number stood at 152.

‘Glassing’ is itself not an offence. Instead, can be a factor of many crimes.

Offences in which glassing was used in the last five years are:

  • Murder;
  • Domestic violence offences;
  • Non-domestic violence assault;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Indecent assault, act of indecency and other sexual offences;
  • Robbery with a weapon not a firearm; and
  • Malicious damage to property

These statistics were sourced from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), who also found that the greatest context where glassing occurred was in non-domestic violence assaults.

This means that people charged with assault involving glassing will usually be facing one of these three charges:

  • Wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm
  • Reckless wounding in company
  • Reckless wounding

Wounding occurs when both layers of the skin are pierced.

Grievous bodily harm is harm of a very serious kind, such as permanent or serious disfigurement, broken bones or organ damage.

Another example of a glassing incident occurred on Saturday night, 26 July 2014.

At around 11.40pm, a 49-year-old man was at a Woy Woy bar with his girlfriend.

After his girlfriend had become involved in a conversation with an acquaintance, he tried to join in.

Instead he was struck with a schooner glass.

He suffered a deep laceration below his right eye and other lacerations above the eye and on the chin.

The 38 year old alleged attacker was arrested and will appear in the Woy Woy courthouse later in the month. He was refused bail.

He was charged with reckless wounding.

According to the NSW Crimes Act, the maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment.

As for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and reckless wounding in company, the maximum jail time is 25 and 10 years respectively.

What about the new ‘king hit’ laws?

New assault charges have been added just this year.

Assaults causing death are now punishable by 20 years in prison and if the offender was intoxicated at the time, they face a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years in prison.

Since glassing often occurs in situations involving alcohol and includes assault using an object to strike the victim, this rule could be applied to a glassing attack.

In the last four years, there have been three deaths from glassing, but none since the new ‘king hit’ laws came into effect.

Glass bottles still remain a dangerous weapon, even though the number of attacks is in decline.

The case pending in Woy Woy courthouse at the end of the month is proof of that.

Victims are often struck in the face, causing traumatic injuries and lifelong disfigurement.

Depending on the particular offence committed, those who engage in glassing could be looking at heavy penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.


  1. Mark

    Bit late but a bit of feedback or info for anyone who sees this. I got glassed at 2am in the morning by a group which consisted of underage and of age adults, who were making excessive noise outside my house. I asked quite nicely for them to try to keep it down a bit. Three of them proceeded to grab me whilst another struck me with a bottle over my head. For better or worse, I did not have excessive visible injuries apart from lots of blood coming from my injury. They were not charged with any offences despite admitting to it.

  2. Darryl Hughes

    I’m so sorry for your trauma Mark. That is certainly NOT acceptable that they can assault someone and not even get community service. I wonder how many other people they have assaulted since assaulting you?

  3. David

    Hi Mark. I was glassed in ’09 as a 19 year old during Christmas celebrations at the local pub.
    11 stitches and microsurgery, the perpetrator got a slap on the wrist (6 month good behaviour bond) and I sit here every day with my facial scars.
    Funny thing is thiough, I defended myself and put the bloke in a coma for 6 weeks.

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