Protester cleared of punching police horse, may sue media outlets

Australia's mainstream media splashed his image across the news, but a court has found the man accused of punching a police horse at an anti-lockdown protest not guilty.

Protester cleared of punching police horse, may sue media outlets
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Kristian Pulkownik, the man who was accused of punching a police horse during Sydney's anti-lockdown protests, is considering suing several media outlets for defamation after all charges against him were totally dismissed.

Pulkownik was charged in July 2021 after photographs and videos posted by the media claimed it showed him striking the horse during a clash between police and thousands of protesters at the "Rally For Freedom".

However, charges of animal cruelty, affray and defying a public health order were quietly dropped earlier this year.

Yesterday the remaining charge of joining or continuing in an unlawful assembly was dismissed by a judge on mental health grounds. Speaking outside court his lawyer, Samir Banga, said that Pulkownik had been treated unfairly by the media and that their client was acting in self-defence.

"The biggest issue my client has faced is being given a label, colloquially the "horse punch guy", and that is not a label that he is going to be able to shake off. There are a number of media outlets that have jumped on that and slandered my bloke. Defamation is around the corner, we are looking into it now," he said.

Pulkownik's lawyers had previously argued the pictures and angles used by media outlets did not tell the full story. An image showing Mr Pulkownik wearing a yellow singlet branded with the words "free speech" while clashing with the horse was splashed across newspaper front pages and news bulletins.

In dismissing the remaining charge on mental health grounds, the judge noted that Mr Pulkownik has been under intense media scrutiny, saying "his noggin was printed all over the press".

Following his arrest in 2021, Pulkownik spent three weeks in prison before being granted bail. The case has sparked debate about media ethics and the impact of sensationalised reporting on individuals' lives.

As of now, it is unclear which media outlets Pulkownik intends to sue, and it remains to be seen whether he will pursue legal action.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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