Paparazzo in Worthington stoush gets win
The paparazzo accused of assaulting Australian movie star Sam Worthington has walked out of court a free man after New York prosecutors announced they were dropping the case ‘in the interest of justice’.
Photographer Sheng Li and his lawyer Mark Heller celebrated outside the Manhattan courthouse on Thursday after the decision.
‘I think clearly by his exoneration today and the outright dismissal, the court sent out a loud and clear message to celebrities the papar adidas football boots azzi are not punching bags, nor are they second class citizens,’ Heller told AAP.
Heller was outraged when Worthington quietly secured a conditional discharge on a misdemeanour assault charge last month, allowing the actor to avoid a jail sentence or fine if he kept out of trouble for six months.
Worthington and his model girlfriend, Lara Bingle, however, may face scrutiny from fede adidas football boots ral prosecutors, with Heller filing a complaint about how the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office treated the celebrity couple.
Heller wants Bingle charged for her role in the February 23 incident on a Manhattan street.
Video footage of the altercation shows Worthington punching Li after Bingle confronted the paparazzo while he took photos.
‘The Justice Department is vigorously pursu adidas football boots ing this,’ Heller said.
‘They sent me a letter telling me they are taking this very seriously.’
Li and Heller scored the legal victory on Thursday when assistant district attorney Francesca Bartolomey told judge Laurie Peterson the assault and harassment charges against the 37 year old paparazzo should be dismissed.
‘When Ms Bingle’s boyfriend arrived at the scene, he admittedly punched this defendant in the face,’ The New York Daily News quoted Bartolomey as saying.
‘After careful evaluation of the facts and in consideration of the injuries sustained by both the victim and the defendant, the people move to dismiss the case against the defendant in the interest of justice.’
Heller said Worthington could still get charged with attempted robbery for trying to take Li’s camera.
Worthington and Bingle could also face a civil suit brought adidas football boots by Li.
The paparazzo, following the clash with the Australians, has suffered physically and mentally, the lawyer said.
Li wore a wrist brace in court, and Heller said he goes to therapy twice a week.
‘He’s gravely concerned about his future because he hasn’t been able to practice his profession,’ Heller said.
‘He has a bulging disc, torn tendons and depending on how he heals, he may have to go in for a $US50,000 ($A54,000) operation and never be able to practice the profession he loves, photography.