22 August 2023

Homophobic slurs in kebab shop ended with abuser knocked unconscious

| Albert McKnight
ACT court

A 21-year-old pleaded guilty to knocking his victim unconscious during a night out in Civic. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The homophobic slurs that kicked off an argument in a Civic kebab shop resulted in the abuser being headbutted in the face and knocked unconscious for 10 minutes.

It was early in the morning on 28 April 2023 when the victim called the defendant an abusive term because the latter had painted nails, the ACT Magistrates Court heard on Monday (21 August).

They got into an argument before leaving the kebab shop, but then the victim called out at him and they continued their argument about how the victim had been homophobic.

The defendant threatened to headbutt the victim, who replied, “You won’t headbutt me, you’re a [term used as homophobic insult]”.

But the defendant grabbed his victim’s shoulders and headbutted him in the face, causing a nosebleed. He stumbled towards a nearby nightclub where he was helped to the ground and lost consciousness.

He woke up about 10 minutes later while he was being transported to hospital.

The defendant, who Region has chosen not to name, pleaded guilty to assault and Magistrate Robert Cook said he found the offence proven when the 21-year-old appeared in court for the start of his sentencing on Monday.

“He should have kept walking and he didn’t,” the magistrate said of the man’s actions.

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He said the defendant had been provoked in one sense, but also said that the assault had been unprovoked in another, as the young man hadn’t been threatened physically.

“What was aimed at you were words,” Magistrate Cook told him.

Adrian McKenna of Hugo Law Group, representing the defendant, said his client had very strong subjective features, a low risk of reoffending and hadn’t reacted like that before.

Prosecutor Julia McLean accepted that the persistent homophobic remarks made by the victim played a role in the defendant’s actions, but also noted the defendant had escalated the exchange by threatening the headbutt.

She also argued that losing consciousness for 10 minutes was a highly aggravating factor in the matter.

Magistrate Cook said the defendant admitted he was drunk that night and the court heard two of his family members were in the LGBTQ community, which may have had an impact on his actions.

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The magistrate decided to make a deferred sentence order, which means stating what could be imposed as a sentence but deferring it for some time for a defendant to make steps towards rehabilitation.

The defendant must comply with supervision by authorities and must attend psychological assessments and programs as directed.

Magistrate Cook said if he complies with the conditions, he will likely receive a good behaviour order and he may even make a non-conviction order. If he fails to comply, he may receive three months’ jail.

Bail was continued and the matter was adjourned until 20 March 2024 for the defendant to be sentenced.

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