Australian jazz musician James Morrison has written a character reference for an American saxophonist who indecently assaulted a woman while studying at a prestigious South Australian music academy.
Key points:Matthew Allen Harkins was a student at the James Morrison Academy when the assault took placeHarkins faces a maximum of eight years in jail for the offenceHis lawyer asked a judge not to record a conviction because it would harm his client’s career
Matthew Allen Harkins, 26, will be sentenced next month in the South Australian District Court after today pleading guilty to one count of indecent assault.
His plea came after two counts of rape, a more serious charge, were withdrawn by prosecutors.
The court heard Harkins was a student at the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier when he took a consensual sexual encounter too far.
Bill Boucaut SC, for Harkins, urged Judge Rauf Soulio not to record a conviction against his client’s name because it would jeopardise his ambitions to become a music teacher in the future.
“Mr Harkins has never been in trouble before,” he said.
“His father is a talented pianist — he inherited his father’s gift. He is a highly accomplished musician.”
Mr Boucaut said Harkins was a man with an “exemplary character”, before handing Judge Soulio a bunch of character references, including one written by James Morrison.
James Morrison was among those who wrote character references for Harkins.(ABC Local: Kate Hill)
He said Harkins took a gap year in 2015 and travelled to Australia and New Zealand with a friend before one of his teachers from the US encouraged him to audition for James Morrison in Sydney.
The court was told he was accepted into the James Morrison Academy for Music with “flying colours” in 2017.
“As for his future plans, he wants to make a career out of music. He wants to either maintain contact with the music industry as a session player, or a band, or both,” Mr Boucaut said.
“He intends to return to the United States as soon as this is out of the way.”
The court heard Harkins’s visa expired six months ago but he could stay in Australia until his criminal prosecution was finalised.
But prosecutors told the court that the offending was too serious not to attract a conviction.
Harkins faces a maximum of eight years in jail for the offence.