23 December 2021

Killer Matthew Gagalowicz sentenced for headbutting spree

| Albert McKnight
Man leaving court

Matthew Gagalowicz, 37, leaving court after spending more than 200 days in custody on Wednesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A previously convicted killer has been sentenced for going on a headbutting spree, violently attacking two people, and smashing a window at McDonald’s.

Matthew Gagalowicz, 37, was allowed to leave custody on Wednesday (22 December) after being sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court.

He was convicted for a manslaughter charge in his early 20s over an incident in NSW, but he had been pulled before the Canberra court for a string of other charges starting in April 2020 at the Dickson Woolworths.

He had been lying on the ground, yelling at people as they walked past and called one woman a “c–t”.

In response, the woman’s son turned to him and said, “What the f-k did you say to my mum, mate?”

Their argument escalated and Gagalowicz headbutted the son in the face. Magistrate James Stewart said, “there was absolutely no need for the unprovoked violence”.

In April 2021, he went into McDonald’s Dickson where he got into an argument with staff, rammed a shopping trolley into a self-service kiosk, denting it, then headbutted a window three times causing what court documents describe as a large “spider crack” in the glass.

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Magistrate Stewart said the property damage was “pretty remarkable” and “extremely violent and destructive behaviour”.

He also committed several thefts, including stealing a jacket and shorts worth about $1100, about $600 worth of alcohol and a $500 barcode scanner, with Magistrate Stewart describing the latter as “just blatant dishonesty”.

While Gagalowicz pleaded guilty to charges including assault, damaging property and theft, he took another assault charge to a hearing, although Magistrate Stewart finalised that on Tuesday.

He said Gagalowicz “smashed [his victim’s] face with his forehead” in an “ultraviolent” headbutt.

Mr Chen from Legal Aid said after his client, who had a privileged upbringing, had been released from custody over his manslaughter charge, he had done well initially, but then events happened that “caused the wheels to fall off”.

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Gagalowicz could be seen speaking animatedly to Mr Chen during his sentencing, enough so that at one point, Magistrate Stewart told him, “hey, Mr Gagalowicz, peace out”.

Magistrate Stewart described him as very intelligent.

“Out of all the people who come before this court, boy-o-boy, you’ve got some talent. I’d give a kidney to have one-tenth of your musical talent,” he said.

He said Gagalowicz would be sentenced to 12 months’ jail, backdated to account for the 209 days he’d already spent behind bars, then partially suspended from Wednesday for him to be released from custody on an 18-month suspended sentence that day.

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