A man who was accused of a home invasion has been acquitted of aggravated burglary following an incident involving a machete in Kambah.
Kerrod Matthew James Edwards walked out of the ACT Supreme Court on Friday afternoon a free man, wrapping up a judge-alone trial that began on Monday.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Sarah McFarland alleged Mr Edwards had trespassed into a home in August 2019 during "a surprise attack" to get the keys to a car he claimed was his.
It was alleged Mr Edwards had stood over a man in his bed while threatening him with a machete.
But the accused argued this man, an acquaintance who had taken the Mazda 3 days earlier, let him in willingly and gave him back the keys with an apology for not having done so earlier.
Mr Edwards' version of events was that the man began yelling because "he must have thought he was going to get hit", but the pair ultimately shook hands.
He said no threats were made inside, and he left as soon as he heard other occupants telling him to go.
Mr Edwards insisted the only time he had hold of a weapon was when he picked up the machete, which was already inside the house, and left with it because he feared it would be used to stab him in the back.
The court heard evidence from a range of people including the occupants of the house, police officers and Mr Edwards himself.
Delivering his verdicts on Friday afternoon, Justice David Mossop said there were two alternative charges of aggravated burglary.
Both required the Crown to prove Mr Edwards had entered or remained in the home as a trespasser with intent to commit an offence.
One charge alleged Mr Edwards was there to steal the car keys, but Justice Mossop said the accused's claims that he owned them were backed up by other evidence and the retrieval of his own keys could not be considered theft.
The alternative count alleged Mr Edwards was a trespasser with intent to commit an offence involving harm or the threat of harm.
The judge said he was not satisfied Mr Edwards had entered the house as a trespasser, because the man who lived there may have indeed let him in willingly.
But Justice Mossop found Mr Edwards became a trespasser at the point when the man's mother, woken by her son yelling out, screamed at Mr Edwards to leave and he did not move to do so until later.
The judge said Mr Edwards, as alleged by the Crown, possessed an offensive weapon while trespassing because he had the machete, even if only on his way out.
Mr Edwards had also been in company with co-accused Melissa Baker, in accordance with the indictment.
However, Justice Mossop said the Crown had failed to prove an element necessary to convict Mr Edwards on either count, being that he and Baker had entered into an agreement to commit an offence as trespassers.
While Baker pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, she told police after her arrest that she had simply given "a cuz" a lift so he could get his car keys.
The judge therefore found Mr Edwards not guilty on both counts.
While Mr Edwards walked free from court, he may yet return on a related charge.
Prosecutors attempted to commence perjury proceedings against him on Thursday, alleging he lied under oath about a coronavirus test in the lead-up to his trial.
However, the perjury charge was stayed because the ACT Magistrates Court had no proof that the prosecution had been authorised by the necessary people.