Screwdriver death freak accident and not murder, court hears

A recreational fisherman accused of a screwdriver stabbing murder beside Perth's Swan River argues he was acting in self-defence when the intoxicated stranger charged at him and accidentally impaled his head on the tool.

Andrew Doan had been fishing with a friend in East Fremantle in the early hours of December 23, 2017 when he became embroiled in an argument with Charles John McCarthy, who had been out drinking at a Christmas party with his wife and a male friend.

Prosecutor James Mactaggart said the trio were walking to a hotel where they had booked an overnight stay when they passed by the fishermen, who were walking up an embankment, with one dragging an esky.

The deceased's friend said something along the lines of "any luck fellas?" and the pair replied "no fish there", Mr Mactaggart told the West Australian Supreme Court on Monday.

It is not in dispute Mr McCarthy's friend then said: "That'll be for Fisheries to determine", which the prosecutor described as a light-hearted comment.

However, defence counsel Michael Perrella said Doan and his friend, who are both Asian, were angered because they believed it was a racist remark.

It is also not disputed Doan pursued the trio as they walked away, swore and threatened to stab Mr McCarthy.

But Mr Perrella said the threat only came after the deceased started "shaping up" to Doan.

The lawyer said Mr McCarthy was "full of rage" and charged at his client three times after breaking from his wife, who was hysterical and pleading for him to stop as she tried to restrain him.

Mr Perrella said Doan had gone back to his ute and was holding his arms up to protect his face - screwdriver in hand - when Mr McCarthy charged the third time, impaling himself in a "freak and tragic accident".

"There was no stabbing motion," the lawyer said.

"The real issue in this trial is how did the injury occur."

The screwdriver penetrated through Mr McCarthy's skull to his brain and he was taken off life support the following day.

Doan remained at the scene until authorities arrived.

Mr Mactaggart said it was a deliberate act following a paranoid interpretation of a harmless comment.

The trial continues.

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