A 16-year-old student was "hijacked" after school on August 18, and forced to walk with a group of young thugs who threatened to put a bullet in his head before he was brutally bashed - all over his friendship with a 13-year-old girl.
Gympie Magistrates Court heard how the child victim had left a Gympie region high school one afternoon and was pursued by a group of males he knew from school.
When the group caught up with him they started threatening to bash him, telling him if he tried to run from them he would have a .308 bullet in his head. They then insisted he follow them to "see Michael", who wanted to talk to him.
The court heard the victim's heart was racing as the group walked him to see 17-year-old Michael James Nelson who went on to lay a heavy fist into the 16-year-old's head, repeatedly.
The chilling school tale was told to the court room yesterday as Nelson, a thin, red-haired man who appeared barely past boyhood himself, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.
The court heard Nelson confronted the boy about his relationship with a 13-year-old female friend of Nelson's.
Nelson told the teen to stay away from her and when he didn't apologise, started laying into him.
Nelson grabbed the victim by the shirt and punched his face15 times before going in for a second round of five punches.
Nelson's friends failed to intervene and the teen was left with a swollen face, the court heard.
Prosecutor Lisa Manns said the victim was "hijacked" on his way home from school and that while she was not sure whether others had been charged, he was subject to more offences than just Nelson's assault.
Nelson's defence, duty lawyer Leanne Gordon, said while it was difficult for someone to keep count in a situation like the one that unfolded on August 18, her client estimated the punches to be more like five, not 15, and that he had wanted to talk to the victim to obtain an apology.
She said the victim had been "a smart alec" to Nelson, who was under pressure at home with an ill mother, even after the assault when the pair crossed paths at school
Magistrate M Baldwin said violence like Nelson's was usually a sure-fire ticket to jail.
"There's no place for violence, especially over a 13-year-old girl," the Magistrate said.
"Had there been alcohol involved you would have been going to jail.
"It's by the slimmest of margins I'm going to put you on probation," she said, before reminding him that in her court room jail was not a last resort for violence which was becoming "an increasing problem", especially when mixed with drugs.
Nelson pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm and possessing dangerous drugs - cannabis seeds were found in his wallet during an interview with police on September 11.
He was placed on 12 months probation, which Mrs Baldwin said would assist Nelson through any personal problems. The magistrate ordered that no conviction be recorded, saying it could have a severe impact on someone as young as Nelson in the future.
He was also placed on a six month good behaviour bond with $330 recognisance and an order to attend drug diversion for the possession offence.
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