27 March 2023

Pokies brawler fist-bumps supporter after avoiding return to jail

| Albert McKnight
man gives thumbs-up

Jayden Stephen Kirkman leaves the ACT Courts in 2021. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A tavern-room fighter who bashed a fellow patron during a brawl that was sparked from an argument at the pokies fist-bumped a supporter after being told he would not be returned to jail.

Jayden Stephen Kirkman had been found guilty of a charge of affray over the incident at the Belconnen Magpies Golf Club on 11 March, 2022.

When the 25-year-old appeared for sentencing on Thursday (23 March), the ACT Magistrates Court heard those involved in the incident were in the club’s smoking area when Kirkman was challenged about using a poker machine and “things escalated from there”, Magistrate Robert Cook said.

A brawl that broke out between two groups was caught on closed-circuit television. During the fight, Kirkman swung a beer glass at a member of the opposite group, headbutted him, then hit him four times in the face.

Magistrate Cook described it as “excessive” violence and said while the fight hadn’t been started by Kirkman, “it was certainly finished by him”.

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Kirkman’s lawyer, Jeremy Banwell from Legal Aid, argued that before the fight started his client’s group had tried to resolve the dispute peacefully, with one offering an offended patron $20.

He said his client thought the amount on the poker machine was $5 or $7, which would have been covered by the $20, but footage showed he had also pulled out his own wallet, seemingly to try to offer money.

Kirkman also bashed the patron when he was about seven months into a 12-month good behaviour order, which he was handed in 2021 over violent offending that saw him spend four months in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Mr Banwell said the roofer was “deeply fearful” of being returned to the AMC due to the “awful time” he had there, including being exposed to violence in the confined space.

The court also heard Kirkman had breached his bail while awaiting sentencing. At 9 am on 19 February, 2023, police were told two men were running along the light rail track, throwing items at cars and appearing to be intoxicated.

Kirkman was one of the men and was slurring his words when police spoke to him.

Magistrate Cook told him his underlying issue was alcohol use and he had a “violent history” of offending.

“You, fundamentally, have to stop drinking, in my view,” he said.

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He was satisfied Kirkman had breached his suspended sentence for the earlier offending and resentenced him to seven months’ jail, wholly suspended for a good behaviour order.

When it came to the affray, he was convicted and sentenced to six months’ jail, wholly suspended for a 15-month good behaviour order, and the magistrate told him, “You get the chance on this occasion”.

Kirkman fist-bumped a female supporter as he walked out of the courtroom’s doors.

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