A Canberra man has avoided prison over an assault that left his victim unrecognisable.
Aiden Edward Paff previously pleaded guilty to the December attack, which left his victim, a visitor from Wagga Wagga, with a fractured eye socket and cheekbone.
A physical altercation had broken out between two groups of men in the city centre, with the victim getting involved to drag Paff off his friend.
Paff retaliated by punching the victim in the head, even though he had been holding up his hands in a non-confrontational manner.
He later kicked the victim once in the head as he lay on the ground.
The victim reported the assault two days later, with police issuing a media release calling for information to help identify Paff from CCTV footage in January.
Paff handed himself in to police following that release.
During the 24-year-old’s sentencing on Friday (15 September) in the ACT Supreme Court, Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson said this offending “should never have happened”.
She referenced the “serious and long-lasting” impacts the crime had had on the victim, including his fear of going out at night.
A pre-sentence report noted Paff had acknowledged the “pain and suffering” he had caused, and described that he would “apparently self-medicate” with alcohol and cannabis in times of stress.
Paff has since been engaging in counselling for anger management, drugs and alcohol and other mental health issues.
He was assessed as being suitable for an intensive corrections order with additional community services conditions.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson noted deterrence of street violence involving young men and alcohol needed to be taken into consideration; however, given Paff’s guilty plea, pro-social supports and commitment to rehabilitation, she agreed full-time custody was “not appropriate” in this case.
She sentenced Paff to 30 months’ prison to be served by way of an intensive corrections order, with an additional 300 hours of community service to be served within three years.
“This is a significant punishment only second to full-time imprisonment,” Justice Loukas-Karlsson said.
“[The victim] has been greatly, permanently affected by your crime … [but] the court accepts you’ve begun the lifelong process of real rehabilitation.”
She addressed Paff directly, telling him he needed to take advantage of this opportunity to point his life in the right direction.
“Innocent people should be able to go about their lives without being assaulted,” Justice Loukas-Karlsson said.
“You must strive daily, Mr Paff, to be a better person.”
Paff replied: “I will.”