Supreme Court overturns Jesse Ray Penhall’s murder conviction for the bashing of Hells Angel David ‘Panda’ Norris

Jesse Ray Penhall

A man who once survived being shot 14 times has successfully appealed his conviction for murdering a Hells Angels bikie with a spanner. He will now face a new trial.

Jesse Ray Penhall was convicted by a jury of murdering Hells Angels bikie David “Panda” Norris at a trucking business in September 2017. He appealed to the Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal arguing that he had been denied a fair trial.

On Friday the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and quashed Penhall’s murder conviction. In his judgment Justice Kevin Nicholson said the trial judge had failed to direct the jury as to whether Penhall could have acted in self-defence.

Justice Nicholson said the jury were denied a “pathway” to consider whether Penhall had been provoked and had responded with “excessive self-defence”, which would have resulted in a finding on manslaughter.

“There had been no previous mention of this concept by anyone much less any explanation of the types of situation it is designed to address and why,” he said.

“It was a very short direction without context, concerning a concept – when and why, what is otherwise murder, might be reduced to manslaughter – that would not come naturally to many members of the public. The direction concerning excessive self-defence in the absence of placing it in its full evidentiary context was, in my view, too brief and obscure.”

Penhall attended Mr Norris’s business on the afternoon of Sunday September 10, 2017. He stayed several hours and shared a drink with Mr Norris. Security cameras at the workshop filmed both men entering the workshop just after 6pm. Three minutes later Penhall emerged.

In the intervening time Mr Norris had died from six blows to the face and head with a 2.1kg ring spanner. He suffered a critical brain injury and died at the scene.

Penhall said during his trial that Mr Norris had attacked him first, throwing a can of drink at him and then striking him on the back with a hammer. He said he feared for his life and defended himself while trying to escape the workshop as soon as he could.

Penhall later tried to ditch the clothes he had been wearing during the incident. During the trial he acknowledged discarding the clothes when he saw there was blood on them once he got home.

Penhall will again stand trial for murder though new proceedings have been scheduled. Penhall famously survived a 2008 bikie ambush where he was shot 14 times but managed to escape to the local pub where an ambulance was called.

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Source: The West Australian by Mitch Mott