One-punch victim had 'hit a woman in the face' on same night

Nicholas Anthony Rourke, 22, pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on August 31 to common assault.
Nicholas Anthony Rourke, 22, pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on August 31 to common assault. Annie Perets

ON THE same night that Nicholas Anthony Rourke was left fighting for his life after being the victim of a one-punch attack, he himself threw a punch.

The 22-year-old Kawungan man hit a woman in the face outside a Hervey Bay licensed venue.

Rourke pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court yesterday to a charge of common assault, which he committed on the Esplanade on April 8.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Kathryn Stagoll said Rourke's punch was misguided and meant for somebody else.

The court heard that Rourke, who was drunk at the time, swung an arm with the intention of hitting a man named Josh Wheeler.

But instead, Rourke accidentally hit Mr Wheeler's female partner.

"The defendant swung out with his right arm at Mr Wheeler with a closed fist," Sgt Stagoll said.

"It appears Mr Wheeler avoided the punch by moving back.

"The punch continued past Mr Wheeler and connected with the victim."

The woman suffered swelling to her face.

Sgt Stagoll said prior to the incident, Rourke was "heckling" Mr Wheeler outside the pub, causing Mr Wheeler to grab Rourke by his shirt.

Rourke's defence lawyer Rebecca Pezzutti pointed out that Rourke's attack was a reaction to the shirt-grabbing.

"He didn't initiate the violence," Ms Pezzutti said.

"He's usually of good character and has no prior offences or history.

"He was shocked when he viewed the video of what transpired."

In an altercation later that night, Rourke was allegedly punched by Dundowran teenager Tyler Robert Johns.

Rourke suffered serious head injuries and was rushed to Hervey Bay Hospital, and later flown to Brisbane.

He was hospitalised for more than a week, and was in a life-threatening condition at times.

"He's been very impacted by the injuries he subsequently sustained," Ms Pezzutti said.

"He's genuinely remorseful."

Magistrate Stephen Guttridge ordered a 12-month good behaviour bond for Mr Rourke.

No conviction was recorded.

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