23 February 2024

Ex-dog daycare worker accused of getting into fight over e-scooters not 'built for prison'

| Albert McKnight
man walking outside court

Keegan Dempsey, 26, was granted bail over an alleged assault. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A former dog daycare worker accused of punching the stranger who told him to stop pushing over e-scooters has been harassed in Canberra’s jail and is not “built for prison”, his lawyer has claimed.

Keegan Dempsey, 26, was granted bail by the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (22 February) after the court heard he had allegedly been assaulted in custody while detainees had also been stealing his food and nicotine patches.

He had begun pushing e-scooters over outside Ainslie Village in Campbell in the afternoon of 26 October 2023 when a man walking by saw him and told him to stop doing it, court documents allege.

Police allege Mr Dempsey “ran straight into and pushed” the man, then he “threatened he would get him deported”.

Mr Dempsey called police, claiming the man threatened him, but allegedly also repeatedly stood in the man’s way when he tried to leave.

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He allegedly took multiple rings off his necklace and put them on his fingers before punching the man once in the face and trying, but missing, to punch him again. The pair fell to the ground and started wrestling.

The man eventually got up before Mr Dempsey allegedly picked up a metre-long stick. He was then filmed on closed-circuit television footage chasing the man around Ainslie Village until security intervened.

Police allege the man sustained multiple injuries from the incident, including a split cheek on the inside of his mouth from the punch, as well as grazes to his fingers.

Mr Dempsey allegedly sustained a split head and was taken to hospital.

Keegan Dempsey will fight the allegations against him at a hearing. Photo: Albert McKnight.

“Police took a version of events from the defendant, which did not corroborate any evidence police were able to obtain,” police claim in the documents.

Mr Dempsey pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and possessing an offensive weapon with intent when he faced court on Thursday, as well as to unrelated allegations, and applied for bail for the second time.

His lawyer, Legal Aid’s Brandon Bodel, said his client had never spent time in custody before, which had been a “wake-up call” for him.

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He claimed the former dog daycare and kennel worker had been assaulted in custody by detainees multiple times, while he’d also had his food and nicotine patches taken from him a few times.

“He’s not someone who … is built for prison,” Mr Bodel said.

Prosecutor Estelle Narouz, who opposed bail, argued the “unpredictable nature” of the allegations against him would make it hard to craft bail conditions.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker ultimately granted bail, saying while she accepted there were concerns about releasing him into the community, she thought conditions could support him with his mental health and substance use.

The matter was adjourned for a hearing on 23 August.

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