24 November 2021

Active churchgoer who bashed girlfriend twice spends six months behind bars

| Albert McKnight
ACT Courts

A 19-year-old has been released from jail after assaulting his girlfriend twice. Photo: File

A teenager and active member of his church bashed his girlfriend twice, first over an argument to do with a handbag and next when he jumped into her car and punched her in the face as she drove through Civic.

The 19-year-old spent about six months behind bars until he was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (23 November), then slapped hands with his brother and hugged him in celebration when he was released from custody.

The court heard the construction worker had been in a relationship with the woman for a relatively short time before getting into an argument with her over the location of a handbag.

He grabbed her by her face and neck, pushed her over and slapped her in the face.

He told her he would “pop” the tyres of her car with a knife but didn’t carry out his threat.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston said the next incident was “much more serious”.

The girlfriend had been driving along Mort Street in Civic when she saw him crossing the road in front of her and tooted her horn at him.

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Even though he was on bail at the time, he jumped into her car and they started arguing.

He refused to get out of the vehicle, pushed her, ripped out one of her hair extensions and punched her twice in the face. Photos showed her with swelling and scratches on her head.

The man’s lawyer, Benjamin Rutzou from Legal Aid, said his client was an active member of the Uniting Church. After the first assault on his girlfriend, he realised he had issues to address and started alcohol and anger management courses.

Prosecutor Julia Epstein was concerned about the level of violence against his partner and said the man needed to take steps towards rehabilitation; otherwise, he would continue on the path he was on.

Magistrate Theakston said a “carefully thought out letter” from the man showed he had some insight into his behaviour.

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The man pleaded guilty to charges of assault and threatening to cause property damage.

He was sentenced to three months’ jail, which meant he could have been released several months ago so was allowed to leave the court that day and was also given a six-month good behaviour order.

The RiotACT has not named the man to avoid identifying the victim.

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