Court Overturns Conviction Of Sydney Man Who Punched Homophobe

Court Overturns Conviction Of Sydney Man Who Punched Homophobe
Image: Micro Olivieri outside the Sydney Downing Centre District Court in January 2024. Image: AAP Photos/ Bianca Di Marchi

By Grace Johnson

A Sydney court overturned the conviction of a good Samaritan who intervened to stop a homophobic attack during Sydney WorldPride last year.

Mirco Olivieri, 30, a fashion consultant, was at the Sydney WorldPride festival in January 2023 when he saw two men harassing a young gay man outside a kebab shop.

Olivieri intervened but was soon pushed to the ground and called a homophobic slur. When he stood up, he threw punches at one of the men, leading to his arrest and a year-long legal ordeal that was only resolved on Monday 8 January.

In defending the younger gay man, called Jack Schmidt, Olivieri was arrested with the two men who initiated the attack and held in custody for eight hours. All three parties were charged with affray.

In April 2023, Olivieri was convicted and subject to a two-year community corrections order after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Olivieri, who started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for his legal expenses, said he was returning from a party when he witnessed the homophobic attack.

‘I was Shocked’

“The boy in question stood against a wall while two men were bullying and threatening him. Seeing this, I intervened asking these “men” to leave him alone and consequently one of the two (the larger man) pushed me making me fall and I was injured in the fall,” revealed Olivieri. 

“I was shocked as I had never seen or experienced homophobic violence in Sydney (I left Italy to escape this type of violence).” 

Olivieri said he decided to fight back. “I got up to fight them and prevent them from hurting the young boy again, but the two perpetrators attacked me again, and I reacted in shock.”

 “Due to my naivety, I called the police, hoping they would arrest the two men responsible for this homophobic attack on a poor defenceless boy. The boy who was attacked was not allowed to make a statement to the police,” said Olivieri. 

“I felt depressed, and that my life was falling apart, I felt disheartened as I had never experienced homophobia in Australia before this incident,” said Olivieri.

Stepping In To Protect

The trial court’s order convicting Olivieri meant that he had a criminal record. Olivieri appealed the conviction.

On Monday at the Sydney Downing Centre District Court, Judge Mark Williams overturned the conviction, instead imposing a one-year conditional release order.

“This man was intervening to protect someone he thought was being unfairly victimised,” the judge said. “These two apparently larger, more aggressive men – they were the ones who initiated it.”

Speaking to press outside the courtroom after the judge’s decision, Olivieri said the experience has given him to desire to help others who have found themselves in a similar position.

He added that he wished someone would have stepped in while he was subject to homophobic attacks in Italy, his home country. “Even the court should understand when someone is doing good things and not bad,” he said

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