The ex-girlfriend of a popular anti-bullying charity says she’s too frightened to be alone in her home or in public following his shocking attack.
The ex-girlfriend of a popular anti-bullying charity says she’s too frightened to be alone in her home or in public following his shocking attack.

Kids' anti-bullying charity founder assaulted his partner

AN anti-bullying charity founder, who forced his way into his girlfriend's home during the night and assaulted her, has been given a year's jail sentence to serve in the community.

Conan Martin Visser jumped a fence, woke up his sleeping girlfriend, put his hand around her throat and later slapped her on her face, Brisbane District Court heard.

Judge Paul Smith said it would have been terrifying for Samantha Cooper, who told the court she continued to have nightmares about Visser's violent attack.

Visser, founder of I Can I Will, a children's charity, 35, pleaded guilty to domestic violence-related offences of assaulting Samantha Cooper, causing her bodily harm and common assault in 2018.

"That night I felt terrified. I remember feeling trapped in my own home, in the middle of the night, with no way out," Ms Cooper told the court, reading her victim impact statement.

"I was overpowered and felt a devastating sense of helplessness.

"I remember trying to scream, but there was silence.

"In that moment of terror I thought I might not make it to see the morning."

Crown Prosecutor John Cahill said at 3.40am, on December 8, 2018, Visser jumped the fence outside Ms Cooper's apartment and began knocking on her glass sliding door.

After Ms Cooper went to the door and asked Visser, who had been drinking for hours, if he was okay, he pushed past her, into her bedroom.

Visser falsely accused his girlfriend of three months of cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend, after seeing a puppy her ex had left in her apartment.

Mr Cahill said he called Ms Cooper "a piece of shit", before lying down on her bed and grabbing her throat, saying: "You don't tell me what to do. You f … ed him. Just be honest …"

Sam Cooper (centre), leaves the District Court in Brisbane, flanked by supporters. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Sam Cooper (centre), leaves the District Court in Brisbane, flanked by supporters. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Mr Cahill said after Ms Cooper pushed him and he let go, he yelled: "I know that you were f … ing him all night. You're a piece of shit".

Visser left, but quickly came back, and slapped Ms Cooper on the left side of her face.

After he left, Visser continued to send texts, accusing Ms Cooper of cheating on him.

Mr Cahill said he also sent threatening text messages about his father, saying he would pay for him to come up.

"I'm going to hope that you still laugh when me and my father find you," one text said.

Ms Cooper sent Visser a photo of her face, showing bruising on her neck and redness on her cheek.

"Nothing gives you the right to put your hand around my throat and raise your voice or to slap me," Ms Cooper said in a text to Visser, who replied: "You are right".

Ms Cooper was left with swelling to her neck and pain when swallowing and pain and redness on her face.

Conan Visser.
Conan Visser.

Ms Cooper told the court of the ongoing emotional trauma of her ordeal, saying she was too frightened to be alone in her home or in public.

She said she couldn't shake the "chills" of feeling someone uninvited in her home and feeling attacked in her home.

"I was terrified he, or someone would come back. I was terrified he, or someone, would find me in public," Ms Cooper said.

"I had and still have nightmares, time and time again, replaying scenarios of what could happen if he came back."

Defence counsel John Jacob told the court of Visser founding the charity I Can I Will after meeting a girl, 13, with special needs, who had been bullied.

Visser sold a business and assets in 2013 to set up the charity, dedicated to preventing bullying at school.

Mr Jacob said Visser's charity mentored children and he had a related television series in production.

Mr Jacob said Visser was shocked, appalled and remorseful about his behaviour.

Judge Smith said it was "quite demeaning" and inconsistent with his charitable work.

Judge Smith sentenced Visser to 12 months' imprisonment, to be served within the community, under an intensive correction order and ordered him to pay Ms Cooper $1000 compensation.

Visser must report regularly to a Corrective Services officer and undertake any required domestic violence or anger management counselling or programs.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.   

Originally published as 'Terrified': Anti-bullying charity founder's shocking DV assault


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