Details of an altercation between Sticky Fingers lead singer Dylan Frost and bassist Paddy Cornwall in 2019 has come to light in a court hearing and via an interview Tone Deaf conducted with the pair’s lawyer.
In Downing Centre Local Court on Monday March 1, a court heard of the previously reported fight between Paddy and Dylan in a Marrickville laneway near the Red Rattler Theatre recording studio. The pair were charged with affray in May last year.
Affray is defined as a situation where any person uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another, and whose conduct causes a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety.
Sticky Fingers have been the subject of controversy over the past few years. Namely allegations of violence and discrimination from Dylan Frost in 2016, along with that triple j interview. These factors, along with multiple mental health conditions within the band led to a two year hiatus for Sticky Fingers as a group.
Speaking to Tone Deaf, Paul McGirr of McGirr Lawyers in Sydney said there had been ongoing issues “with Paddy looking after Dylan Frost” before Dylan instigated the fight that night.
“There’s been well documented court cases in relation to [Dylan’s] behaviour and his conditions with schizophrenia and everything else,” said McGirr. “Paddy was the number one fan and number one supporter of him. They were more like close brothers having a fight.”
McGirr, a former police officer, will also be representing Dylan when he appears in court in the coming weeks on the same charge of affray.
In court yesterday, Dr. Olav Nielssen said that a lot of the fighting during the incident was in defence.
“[It was] almost theatrical,” Paul McGirr told Tone Deaf. “It was him trying to make Dylan stay down on the ground because Paddy has been the victim of a number of assaults at the hands of Dylan.”
Police confirmed in court yesterday that Dylan had a knife on him during the incident, which was found during their search. Paul McGirr told Tone Deaf Paddy was aware that Dylan had the knife.
“Neither party wanted police involvement,” McGirr said. “There was no charge of assault. All they were charged with was a charge of affray and with an affray charge you don’t need an actual victim.”
Paul McGirr tendered a personal note to the court as evidence of the pair’s friendship yesterday. The note was written by Paddy on paper featuring the Royal Prince Albert letterhead and given to Dylan in hospital.
The handwritten note read: “Here cuz I love you. Unconditionally. It sucks it came to this after such a lovely day. I really enjoyed it. Until that last part. Let’s get it together you bratty bastard.”
Perhaps the most confronting statement from the court proceeding yesterday was when the court heard Paddy punched Dylan 26 times in the head. Paul McGirr said the footage doesn’t show how many times Dylan was punched and that a number of the punches weren’t actually aimed at Dylan, and landed in the ground.
The court heard that Dylan arrived at RPA hospital with a bruise on his cheek and a bloody nose, and was released without any injuries.
“They couldn’t show that all those punches actually connected […] He was trying to make [Dylan] stop his behaviour. Not only in relation to that day, but in respect to the band,” said McGirr. “Because of his [Paddy’s] bi polar issue it all came to a head. He had a breakdown.”
As the court heard yesterday, Paddy’s mental condition with bi polar and substance abuse disorders were used to request a dismissal of the affray charge. The prosecutors conceded that Paddy does in fact have a mental health condition that should be taken into account. However, that application to use the Mental Health Act – which would have taken the case out of the criminal justice system – was rejected by Magistrate Brett Shields.
The Mental Health Act’s treatment plan, as it stands now, means that a court can only put you on a treatment plan and monitor you for a period of six months. Paul McGirr told Tone Deaf that the problem with using the treatment plan now is the fact that Paddy’s progress doesn’t warrant it.
“This incident happened in July 2019. They didn’t charge us until May 2020. And part of the problem with the treatment plan is Paddy has made great inroads in taking himself off prescription medication and limiting his alcohol and everything else.
“He’s really kicking goals in respect to where he was at that particular point in time,” McGirr added. “[…] Dr. Olav Nielssen doesn’t believe that he needs to check himself into rehab because he’s a different person now.”
Magistrate Shields ruled that the situation was too serious to be dealt with under the Mental Health Act. Instead the Magistrate accepted Paddy’s guilty plea and sentenced him to 18 months’ jail to be served in the community. Paddy previously had no criminal record before this point.
Paddy Cornwall will be subject to random drug and alcohol tests and must abstain from both or he faces a jail term.