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Council worker breaks woman’s nose during bar punch-up

A Balonne shire council worker who thought someone was stealing his takeaway drinks was almost deported after punching two women in the face during a drunken night out.

Fijian man Peni Raiwalui will pay almost $3000 in compensation and enter a lengthy probation order after his punches broke a woman's nose.

Raiwalui, 37, was "highly intoxicated" as he left St George's Australian Hotel in October last year when he assaulted two women who were attempting to help him, the St George Magistrates Court heard.

"At approximately 10pm, the defendant attended the Australian Hotel and a disturbance broke out between the defendant and victim's friend," police prosecutor sergeant Heather Whiting said.

"The defendant tried to get near the friend and people were blocking him from getting close, before he punched the friend.

"The defendant then punched the victim, hitting her in the nose, she fell to the ground, blood poured from her nose, victim felt her nose was put out of place and she attempted to straighten it, she was taken to hospital and received six stitches."

Sergeant Whiting said the victim's nose was broken in the altercation.

The defendant's solicitor, Ross Finlayson, said his client was extremely drunk as he purchased takeaway drinks and while they were on the ground, he thought people were trying to steal them.

"Two women have come over and touched him and he thought they were going to assault him," Mr Finlayson said.

"I'm not trying to make light of it."

He said his client has been in Australia for 10 years and had held a clear record for 37 years.

The man voluntarily attended the police station on November 4, 2020, and was offered to participate in an interview but declined.

The man supports four children and looks after another child whose parents are both in jail, Mr Finlayson informed Magistrate Tracey Mossop.

"He is a full time council worker as a construction labourer, he's the only worker in his family," Mr Finlayson said.

"He sends money to his parents in Fiji to assist their lives.

"These actions were out of character, he's not been before the court for any minor offences."

The solicitor said his client is on a bridging visa and a jail term could affect him dramatically.

"I ask you not to impose a sentence that will record a conviction as it will affect all aspects of his life - visa, work and family," Mr Finlayson said.

Magistrate Mossop replied, "Good. I hope he understands the seriousness of his actions".

"You not only disrupted other patrons when you became aggressive, but you assaulted two female persons," she said.

"You punched one of the females, a woman in the face in the right eye, you punched another women in the face, hit her on the nose and she said to be hospitalised, stitches and got a broken nose.

"The aggravating factors was that you were intoxicated, it's not a mitigating factor - you have now committed to acts of violence against women and I hope you don't treat your de facto partner or children under your care like that.

"You are someone who presents with a good work history and stable relationship and you have taken on additional responsibilities, you are on a bridging visa and you have come close to being sent back to Fiji - you would lose your job, relationship with family and I hope that's very clear to you."

In court on Tuesday, April 13, Raiwalui held his head down as he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and committing public nuisance within a licence venue.

For punching the first woman, he was ordered to pay $800 compensation, referred to SPER.

For the second punch, he was ordered to pay $2000 compensation, referred to SPER.

He was placed on a three year probation order with specific anger management and drinking programs as per advised by his supervisor.

A conviction was not recorded.



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