The last show ride to be packed up at the Gympie Showgrounds yesterday.
The last show ride to be packed up at the Gympie Showgrounds yesterday. Tanya Easterby

Showie released on bail

TWENTY thousand dollars was the price paid to keep Russell John Watkins, 38, from spending another night in custody.

The showie, who is believed to be the operator of the $2-million Space Roller that featured at last week's Gympie Show, was released on bail yesterday to face the Bowen Magistrates Court on July 30, after an application on Thursday went unfulfilled due to confusion over claims the man was wanted in Victoria for another offence and concerns regarding the likelihood Watkins would return to court to face the charges at a later date.

Mr Watkins spent the long weekend in custody and was released yesterday on $20,000 surety, believed to have been put up by the vice-president of the Showman's Guild.

The court heard the Space Roller required three prime movers to transport it and because of Mr Watkins' absence it was the last to be disassembled and removed from the Gympie Showgrounds yesterday.

Despite four-day-old stubble on his face, Mr Watkins presented to Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday in well-dressed form and with a defence team that had travelled from Townsville.

Mr Watkins, who has no Queensland criminal history, was arrested by police on Thursday at the Gympie Showgrounds for allegedly assaulting and harming a person during a pub brawl in Bowen in June, 2011.

Mr Watkins denied being at the pub.

The court heard CCTV footage from the alleged assault in Bowen showed Mr Watkins attacking a person and throwing glass at them during a pub brawl.

It heard the victim received 10 stitches in his face as a result of the incident.

Watkins was also wanted by police in Victoria on assault charges and while a warrant for his arrest awaits him, Victorian police were not looking to extradite him, Gympie Magistrates Court was told.

The defence said Mr Watkins had not been summonsed on the Victorian charges and assured the court he had not been "fleeing the jurisdiction".

The defence said if Mr Watkins, who will follow the show circuit to Maryborough this weekend, was granted bail in Gympie on the condition he return to court to face the Bowen charges it would "not be possible for him to flee and he would be stupid to do so".

In considering granting Mr Watkins bail yesterday, Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said his lack of criminal history suggested there was little likelihood he would re-offend and the combination of the substantial surety and Mr Watkins' association with the show circuit gave good indication he would be "fairly readily located" and would return to court.

The court heard while the Bowen charges, which Mr Watkins denies, could carry jail time of between 18 months and three years and require at least six months of that time be served, if not released on bail he could spend the next seven months in custody before even going to trial.

Gympie Times


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