A man was punched in the face until he was bleeding after he asked a group of people in Civic to pick up their litter.
He had been passing through the precinct when he saw the group with cans of alcohol, the ACT Galambany Court heard on Friday (March 31).
He confronted the group and was hit three to four times in the face by 67-year-old Richard Vincent Murray.
The First Nations man from Queensland was highly intoxicated and aggressive at the time.
Murray pleaded guilty to the October 2022 incident, telling the circle sentencing court’s elders he attacked the man because of perceived racial abuse.
“He was talking down to me and I don’t like people talking down to me,” Murray said.
Special Magistrate Anthony Hopkins accepted Murray had perceived he had been racially abused, but didn’t find the alleged abuse had actually happened.
He also accepted that the former stock worker of 18 years had suffered racial abuse throughout his life.
“There is no excuse for retaliating with fists … even if there is racial abuse,” he said.
The court heard Murray had a history of similar convictions and had served time in prison.
However, his last conviction for a violent offence occurred nearly 20 years ago, in 2005.
“When I have grog in me, I get a bit violent,” Murray told the court.
The court heard Murray’s father also drank alcohol in excess and was violent.
Murray said he had been sober for two and a half months, the longest period since 2011.
The court also heard Murray had been seeking professional help for his alcohol consumption.
“I don’t really want to drink, I don’t even feel like it no more,” he told the court.
“If I keep going on the way I’m going, I’ll be right.”
The elders of Galambany Court asked Murray whether he felt remorse for his actions.
“It doesn’t bother me, but it’s something I did and I have to pay for it,” he said.
The prosecutor asked for a prison sentence for the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm due to his criminal history.
She argued the assault occurred in the context of a “reasonable request” by a civilian asking him not to litter.
However, Murray’s lawyer argued for a lesser sentence given Murray’s rehabilitation progress and gap in violent offending.
Special Magistrate Hopkins found although Murray was not remorseful, he accepted responsibility for his actions.
Murray was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month good behaviour order.
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