A magistrate warned a man
A magistrate warned a man "one punch can kill”. Wiki Commons

Coward puncher with huge debt narrowly avoids jail time

A MAN owing more than $16,000 in unpaid fines has narrowly avoided jail time after coward punching his friend during a morning drinking session.

David James Marshall, 38, and three friends were in Gayndah's Golden Orange Hotel Motel beer garden on December 6 when, at around 11.40am, he inexplicably slugged one of them in the side of the face after becoming "aggressive and irate", according to police prosecutor Sergeant Tina Bland.

The victim reported jaw soreness after the incident but declined to make a complaint of assault, the court heard.

This meant Mr Marshall was instead charged with the lesser offence of committing a public nuisance within licensed premises.

"If that person had relayed a complaint of assault against you I would have no hesitation in giving you actual jail today, as it would then be classified as gratuitous violence in a hotel," Magistrate Terry Duroux said.

The magistrate was shocked to hear Mr Marshall owed the State Penalties Enforcement Registry $16,284.70.

He said he didn't think he had ever seen such "contemptuous disregard" of the court after it was revealed Mr Marshall last made a payment on the debt in 2006.

"You show nothing but contempt. You haven't paid one brass razoo in about 12 years," Mr Duroux said.

The magistrate took a dim view of Mr Marshall's offending.

"Some poor beggar was in the hotel having a beer, probably enjoying himself, and you've come along and struck them," he said.

"You and I know one punch can kill, it's reprehensible.

"I represent the community and the community has had enough of this type of violence."

Mr Marshall was convicted and received a jail term of two months, wholly suspended for two years.

He was also banned from entering all licensed premises in Gayndah for a year.

Mr Marshall claimed this would be no issue as he has given up drinking.


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