Actor Dan Wyllie has been cleared of assaulting his wife of six years after she tipped yoghurt over his head during an alleged ugly bust up at home.
The Love My Way and Offspring actor’s wife, director Shannon Murphy, had claimed that she feared for her life and thought she was going to die when he allegedly assaulted her on March 21, 2020.
Ms Murphy claimed Wyllie, 50, had thrown her against a wall, repeatedly punched her and pinned her to the ground so hard she thought her jaw was going to ‘snap’.
But a Sydney magistrate on Tuesday found Ms Murphy had been ‘less than honest’ with her account of what happened that day and was the ‘original aggressor’.
It was a dramatic end to a case that even dragged in Hollywood star Toni Collette as a celebrity witness to Wyllie’s character.
In Ms Murphy’s version of events, the couple enjoyed drinks with neighbours that night before heading back to their Woollahra flat, according to the magistrate’s summary.
Charges dismissed: Australian actor Dan Wyllie (left) was found not guilty of assaulting his wife and the mother of his child, director Shannon Murphy (right), on March 21, 2020
The ‘Mr Everywhere’ of Australian film and television, 50, then went to the spare room and refused to watch a movie with Ms Murphy, who then went into the kitchen to get yoghurt for dessert, Magistrate Greg Elks recalled.
But then ‘(Ms Murphy) admitted to tipping the yoghurt with flaxeed over his head,’ the judge said in his decision.
Ms Murphy claimed that Wyllie was furious about the yoghurt attack, told her ‘it’s over, you f***ing b***h’, and stormed into the bathroom, according to the magistrate’s summary of her claims.
Ms Murphy alleged that she then went to reach for Wyllie’s phone to see what he had been looking at in the room. She then claimed that he threw her into the hallway.
Ms Murphy alleged that Wyllie pinned her against the wall, with an artwork behind her falling to the ground, according to the magistrate’s decision. She then claimed he had hit her from behind and rained up to 10 blows down on her.
At one point, she claimed to briefly black out. At another, she claimed her head was pushed to the floor so hard she felt her jaw was ‘going to snap’, the magistrate said.
But Wyllie – who the court heard lost work due to the charges – always denied his wife’s version of events, saying he had acted only in self-defence, the court heard.
And the court found in his favour, dismissing the assault charge.
I form the view that she was being less than honest with the court in relation to what truly occurred
His barrister, Peggy Dwyer, argued in closing submissions that Ms Murphy had in fact struck Wyllie in the head with her phone ‘five or six times’.
Ms Dwyer said Ms Murphy had neglected to mention that part of the night in her initial police statement, or the six further statements that followed.
Ms Dwyer also argued a ‘fatal flaw’ in the prosecution case was that Wyllie shot video and photos of himself after his wife poured yoghurt on his face.
But Ms Dwyer said that Ms Murphy had portrayed the assault as a continuing event – and did not mention a pause after the yoghurt was tipped on him.
‘Mr Wyllie is very calm – frustrated – (and) takes a video of himself still covered in yoghurt, having wiped it from his eye,’ Ms Dwyer said in submissions.
A magistrate dismissed the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Tuesday, saying he couldn’t find it beyond reasonable doubt, and saying Dan Wyllie’s wife was ‘less than honest’ about what happened. Wyllie was on crutches this week
Actress Toni Collette was dragged into the case, according to submissions before the court (above on Monday), and spoke to Wyllie’s character
The police prosecutor described Ms Murphy as an ‘honest’ witness who ‘gave an open and frank concession’ to the court about striking Wyllie with the phone.
‘She wasn’t proud of her actions, she acknowledges she was the instigator,’ he said.
However, the magistrate had a different characterisation of what sort of witness she was.
Mr Elks described Ms Murphy ‘as an evasive witness who was prone to not answering questions that were asked’, instead giving lengthy answers that portrayed her in a better light.
‘She was not an impressive witness and I formed the opinion she had tailored her evidence to suit a scenario in which she had been the original aggressor,’ the magistrate said.
In his decision, Magistrate Elks said he was also ‘unsettled’ by a revelation that Ms Murphy had told police at one point what she told them earlier wasn’t true.
‘A lie is a lie and that does cast a great pall over the complainant’s evidence,’ the magistrate said.
The magistrate said a ‘great pall’ had been cast over Ms Murphy’s evidence by ‘a lie’ she had told police
The magistrate added each police officer who saw her following the incident recorded that they had seen no visible injuries to Ms Murphy, including to her jaw, which she had feared would ‘snap,’ he said.
‘The raining down of 10 blows by the defendant would have resulted, in my view, in significant injury. Clearly in the photographs there is not significant injury,’ the magistrate found.
During submissions, Ms Dwyer said actress Toni Colette had been dragged into the proceedings, claiming Ms Murphy felt she had to ‘denigrate’ her, as Ms Dwyer claimed Ms Murphy had also done with another witness who felt a lump on the back of Wyllie’s head.
Ms Dwyer said that Ms Murphy had suggested she had been bullied by the Academy Award nominated actress.
‘Ms Collette had nothing against Shannon (Murphy), nothing about Shannon she had a problem with,’ Ms Dwyer said.
The assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge was dismissed, as was an application for an apprehended violence order and a back-up charge.
Dan Wyllie and Shannon Murphy: Australian film royalty
Award winning: Wyllie (right) won a Silver Logie in 2004 for his role in Foxtel’s Love My Way. Pictured from left to right with co-stars Brendan Cowell, Ben Mendelsohn, Claudia Karvan and Asher Keddie
Dan Wyllie is ubiquitous in Australian drama, having starred in shows ranging from A Country Practice to Offspring, Underbelly, Rake, Secret City and Puberty Blues and movies including Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner. He won the Silver Logie in 2004.
Wyllie has been married to film director Shannon Murphy since 2014. She has worked for the Sydney Threatre Company. The couple have one daughter together and, until this incident, lived together in Woollahra, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.