15 February 2022

Festival-goer picking up litter punched in SummerSalt assault

| Albert McKnight
ACT Courts

Todd Keith Rheinberger, 32, has been sentenced for assaulting a man at SummerSalt 2021 in Canberra. Photo: Region Media.

As SummerSalt 2021 came to a close and a festival-goer bent over to pick up litter left behind, he was punched in the head and knocked unconscious.

Todd Keith Rheinberger, 32, pleaded guilty to assault over the attack and was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (10 February).

Agreed court documents say the victim began picking up rubbish near Rheinberger and his friends at the concert, held at Stage 88, at around 9 pm on 27 February 2021.

One of the friends asked the victim where he got the rubbish bag from so she could also clean up. He responded, “I’m picking up your rubbish”.

Another friend told him to “mind your own business”, to which Rheinberger yelled, “how about you f–k off, mate”.

As the victim stood up from picking up some rubbish, Rheinberger punched him in the side of his head, and he fell to the ground unconscious.

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He was taken to hospital with a dislocated jaw.

While Rheinberger left the concert after punching his victim, he sent a message to him through a mutual acquaintance the next day, saying he was “completely and utterly sorry” for his actions.

“You don’t know me at all and would obviously think very little of me, but that is not the person I am,” he told him.

James Maher from Kamy Saeedi Law said while his client might have perceived the victim was causing grief at the time, there was no excuse for his actions.

He said Rheinberger’s actions were quite impulsive and alcohol had played a part.

Mr Maher said character references described him as a “devoted family man” and a “role model”, and he had been left “devastated and ashamed” by his conduct.

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Magistrate Peter Morrison said Rheinberger, who worked as a national construction manager for a business that employed 500 staff around Australia, already had two assaults on his criminal record from 2010 and 2012.

He told him the assault was in public and the victim had been punched without warning, so “in that respect, your attack was a cowardly one”.

Magistrate Morrison also said Rheinberger’s response was “wholly disproportionate” to whatever mild offence was perceived from the victim.

He was convicted and sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour order, 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay about $1200 in reparations.

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