Fisherman cleared of Perth Irishman's murder

Charles McCarthy died in December 2017 after an altercation with a fisherman in Fremantle.

Charles McCarthy died in December 2017 after an altercation with a fisherman in Fremantle.

A fisherman has been found not guilty of murdering an Irish father-of-two in Perth.

Andrew Doan, 35, was accused of fatally stabbing Corkman Charles John McCarthy, 32, in the head with a screwdriver during a fight next to Perth's Swan River in 2017.

After brief deliberation, jurors found Doan not guilty of both murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter on Friday following a trial in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

There were gasps and tears when the verdict was handed down.

Walking free outside court, the father-of-one described the past 13-and-a-half months in custody as a "crazy rollercoaster".

"I don't wish it upon anyone," he said.

He wept as he said it was good to be back with family and friends.

Mr McCarthy's brother Dan and twin sisters Siobhan and Sinead, who had travelled from their home in Cork, made no comment outside court. Mr McCarthy, 32, from Upper Aghada, Co Cork, worked as a cable layer in Perth and had two children.

The trial heard how Doan had been fishing with his friend Tien Vu Huynh in East Fremantle in the early hours of December 23, 2017 when Mr McCarthy, his wife Nicole and friend Jason Mikel Curran walked by.

Doan said that when the men saw him and Mr Huynh emerging from the water, they asked: "Have you caught much?"

He mumbled "not much" in reply and they shot back "bit of s*** luck", according to Doan.

Their next comment - along the lines of "Fisheries are going to come and get you" - upset him and Mr Huynh, who are both Asian, interpreted it as racist.

Prosecutor James Mactaggart told the jury it was a "smart-arse, throwaway" comment, Mr Doan said the remark was racist because there was a stereotype "that all Asians catch undersize fish".

The trio walked off but Doan pursued them and a profane, verbal argument erupted.

Doan said his anger soon gave way to feeling vulnerable and outnumbered when Mr McCarthy began "puffing up" and walked back towards him "really staunch" with his fists clenched.

"It looked like he was coming into a demonic rage," Doan said.

He said he panicked, reached into his hoodie pocket, pulled out a screwdriver he had been carrying for crabbing and held it above his head, saying: "Get back or I'll stab you."

Doan said that as he retreated to his car, he had a scuffle with Mr Curran and Mr McCarthy kicked a wheelie bin at him, which just missed.

He said Mr McCarthy then charged and moved to punch him - ignoring his wife's frantic pleas to stop - and impaled himself on the screwdriver, which Doan was still holding.

Doan insisted he had closed his eyes, thrown his arms up to protect his face and forgot the tool was in his hand.

When he opened his eyes, Mr McCarthy was on the ground, Doan said.

He remained at the scene until emergency services arrived, telling police "it was me", and claiming self-defence.