Facebook chat provoked attack

A FACEBOOK chat turned into something more serious when a teenager was bashed in March.

The Palms resident Shawn Patrick Gilliland, 19, appeared in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday charged with assault occasioning bodily harm whilst in company, and pleaded guilty to the attack.

Stepping in as Police Prosecutor, Gympie Police Sergeant Chris Lee said the complainant had gone to high school with Gilliland.

Sgt Lee said on March 16, Gilliland was talking to the complainant on Facebook and the two of them decided to catch up at Nelson Reserve.

He said the complainant walked from his home to the park and on the way met with another person, known to Gilliland, who took part in the assault.

The court heard when the complainant stopped outside the Gympie Memorial Pool, the person he met on the way pushed him before yelling derogatory comments.

Sgt Lee said the complainant was then punched by both parties and tried to run away. He said both men then set upon the complainant as he fell over and kicked and stomped on his head and body.

Police located the defendant the next day and in an interview he said the complainant had propositioned him on Facebook and he had become enraged and was unable to stop himself.

Sgt Lee requested a suspended prison sentence for Gilliland’s offence saying he was placed on probation for a similar offence, which was also unprovoked, three days before the March attack.

“He’s been given the opportunity of probation, and is now back before the court on a similar type of offence,” he said.

Gilliland, of De Castella Road, was represented by Ripley Perkins, who said his client had been self medicating with alcohol for pain from a motor vehicle accident two years ago and insomnia.

And on the evening in question his client had been drinking.

Perkins said the complainant had scared his client and said he was going to his house, so Gilliland decided it was better they meet in the park and took someone along in case he got into trouble.

“My client and his...are generally not intimidating,” he said.

Perkins said his client was aware that one punch could kill and was in counselling.

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin deliberated over the evidence for a long time before saying she could hardly believe Gilliland was back before the court after having been before her a number of times.

“This is indeed a tragic occurrence,” Magistrate Baldwin said.

Ms Baldwin said young people were using gratuitous violence as a way of dealing with life and combining it with binge drinking.

She said in taking someone to help, Gilliland had seemed to premeditate the attack.

“When the victim tried to get away...he was pursued, it is a serious matter. He was set upon by a vicious and dangerous attack...It’s nothing short of a miracle he was not more seriously injured.”

Ms Baldwin said she needed to send a clear message that Gilliland’s behaviour was not to be tolerated.

It was sickening, she said, because it was scary that someday someone in Gympie might die because one punch can kill.

“Your behaviour is nothing short of appalling,” she said.

Telling Gilliland to Google Scott Topping, Ms Baldwin said she wouldn’t like to think about what happened in adult jail.

Gilliland’s probation order for the first assault was revoked and he was re-sentenced to 12 months probation and prohibited to drink alcohol during the period.

For the March 16 offence he was sentenced to six months jail to be wholly suspended for 18 months.

Gympie Times

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