A fight broke out between two elderly priests regarding a parking bay where they live in a complex in Dianella. The incident occurred on Friday where three retired Catholic priests reside. Father Thomas Henry Byrne appeared in court recently after being charged with grievous bodily harm for allegedly biting off the ear of Father Thomas Joseph Cameron Smith. Both priests are in their 80s.
Following the fight, Father Byrne instructed Father Smith to pick something up off the ground, according to police. When Father Smith was back in his home he realized that what he picked up off the ground was his right ear. Father Smith wrapped his ear in a towel and went to the Dianella Medical Centre, where police and an ambulance were called. He was admitted to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for surgery.
Father Byrne appeared in East Perth Magistrates Court with a black eye and he did not enter a plea in the case. Chris Lawler, the prosecutor, said that Father Byrne does not sport a criminal record but was worried for the victim if bail was posted in the case.
“They live in the same complex but they are both funded by the Catholic Church,” Lawler told the court.
Father Byrne was issued strict rules by Magistrate Greg Benn. Those rules include not going within 10m of Father Smith, not attempting any communication with Father Smith and not acting in a violent or threatening manner towards Father Smith.
Father Byrne was released on bail and is scheduled for a December 7 appearance in front of the Perth Magistrates Court. A neighbor of the priests in the complex said that he was shocked to learn of the fight so close to his home. “I was shocked because we’re all in our 80s and retired priests,” he said. “It’s very quiet, although they are always driving in and out of the complex.”