16 June 2021

Man whose coward punch caused traumatic brain injury to serve sentence in the community

| Albert McKnight
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CCTV still

CCTV still of the fight at Civic Pub that left a man with traumatic brain injury. Image: Screenshot.

An electrician who coward punched a man leaving him in hospital for 75 days has escaped spending time in jail.

Zane Daniel, 26, walked out of the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (15 June) after he was sentenced over the brutal attack in the Civic Pub that left his victim with a severe traumatic brain injury.

Before he left, Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson reminded him of the “tragic consequences” his attack had on his victim.

“Your life goes on in the same way, but the life of the victim does not, Mr Daniel,” she told him.

“Imagine if he had coward punched you, instead of you coward punching him.

“Imagine your life now. And I want you to think about that every day.”

Justice Loukas-Karlsson found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm over the attack, outlined in her judgement released earlier this year.

Michael Kukulies-Smith and Zane Daniels

Zane Daniel (right) leaves the ACT Courts on Tuesday with his lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith of Kamy Saeedi Law. Photo: Albert McKnight.

On the evening of 17 August 2019, Daniel was playing pool at the Civic Pub with his partner and friends.

Tension had developed earlier in the night when the victim and his friends wanted to play pool at the table being used by Daniel’s group. Eventually, they started a game at the table next to it.

But when Daniel and the victim’s girlfriend were taking shots at their tables, their pool cues got in the way of each other’s, and tension escalated until the victim walked over to speak to Daniel’s girlfriend across a table.

READ MORE Civic Pub head punch lands victim in hospital for 75 days

Daniel, who was next to his victim, grabbed the front of the man’s shirt, punched him on the side of his face, then struck him in the throat area.

The man immediately fell to the ground, unconscious. Daniel turned back to his group and finished his drink before he and his friends tried to leave.

Closed-circuit television footage tendered to the court and provided to Region Media shows the attack.

The victim was taken to Canberra Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and active resuscitation was needed to save his life.

He spent three days in an induced coma, seven in the intensive care unit and had to be admitted to the Liverpool Hospital Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit. In total, he was hospitalised for 75 days.

The man’s injuries included a severe traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic amnesia that lasted for 38 days after the attack.

In the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, Justice Loukas-Karlsson said the man had been left with “extreme injuries”.

A report said the ongoing impact of the assault on the victim included mild to moderate hearing loss, mild cognitive impairment and mental and physical fatigue.

An intensive corrections order (ICO) assessment report found Daniel’s behaviour was influenced by his anger at the time of the assault, but he had expressed regret and had not minimised his actions.

His employer gave a reference to the court, saying he was surprised to hear about the case because he had never known Daniel to be violent towards anyone and Daniel was now ashamed and embarrassed by what he had done.

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Justice Loukas-Karlsson sentenced Daniel to three years and six months’ jail to be served by an ICO, a community-based sentence. He must also serve 500 hours of community service.

“The offence you have committed is a very serious matter, Mr Daniel,” Justice Loukas-Karlsson told him.

“The consequences for the victim are appalling.

“You would not want someone to behave as you did towards you, a member of your family or one of your loved ones.

“To end up in hospital for 75 days and have a traumatic brain injury, it’s unacceptable.”

While Daniel has been living in Carwoola, outside Queanbeyan, he must move to Canberra to serve his ICO.

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Frankly, it’s crazy that thuggish violence like this is rewarded with a slap on the wrist and a finger-wagging lecture from the presiding judge.

Society is to blame.

John Schonners Schonberger10:20 pm 15 Jun 21

How the hell does he not get jail time? Seriously need to hold these woeful judges to account when decisions like this are made. Hopefully this sentence (or lack of it) gets appealed and justice is served.

Another great sentencing outcome by our courts that will really provide a great disincentive to individuals in the community who may find themselves in similar situations in the future.

Couldn’t agree more. Just don’t call the offender a g*** or the moderator/s won’t post your comments…

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