Sucker punch splits unsuspecting woman’s brow at pub
A man described by his employer as "amicable" and "forthright" will spend months in jail for an unprovoked "king-hit" on a seated woman which left her with a 2-3 cm gash to the eyebrow.
Supported at Cleveland Magistrates Court yesterday by his family and employer James Phillip Hall, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm.
Appearing via video link from remand Thornlands man Hall watched his cowardly attack of the woman at a pub as it was replayed from security footage for the court.
The court heard Hall had been drunk on bourbon when at around 7.15pm on October 18 he struck the woman seated in a smoking area at the Sands Hotel in Cleveland.
Refused the request of a cigarette by two women earlier Hall, the court was told, would call them "f****n dogs".
At this, a police prosecutor said, a seated woman who had withheld her cigarettes clapped her hands in mock congratulations which sparked Hall's attack.
Video showed to the court detailed how the defendant summarily punches the seated woman who follows her attacker through an adjacent door.
A police prosecutor, who referred to the incident as a "king-hit scenario", said Hall threw several more strikes at the woman before her partner stepped in.
In the video shown to the court Hall could be seen shadow boxing at the victim's partner who saw him off.
Out on probation for other offending and wearing a court-ordered tracking device at the time, he would be arrested at around 9.11pm that night.
Three character references were tendered to the court on behalf of the defendant, who defence solicitor Alina Somerville acknowledged had a long criminal history of mostly stealing and drug offences.
In a move described as "significant" by the defence, Hall's recent employer of one week came to court in support and offered continued employment to the man regardless of his sentence.
A reference letter from the employer read out to the court by Magistrate Deborah Vasta variously described Hall as "completely candid", "amicable" and "forthright".
But at the suggestion that Hall's violent behaviour at the pub was brought on by his intoxication, and not reflective of habit, a police prosecutor disagreed.
The court heard Hall had been sentenced for assault occasioning bodily harm twice before, which included a 2016 assault on a 13-year-old.
Magistrate Vasta said it was rare for an employer of such relatively short term to show a defendant such support and described Hall's attack on the woman as more of an "afterthought" and "spur of the moment".
Hall was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and three years' probation.
He was further ordered to pay his victim $500 in compensation and was barred from making contact with her.
The magistrate urged the man to write his victim an apology letter through police channels to ameliorate any risk of PTSD from the incident.
Originally published as Sucker punch splits unsuspecting woman's brow at pub