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Tables smashed at Brunswick cafe after drunken pair refused entry to pop concert

Date

Steve Butcher

Two ticketless men refused entry to a Melbourne concert by one of Lebanon's best-known pop stars later caused "havoc" at a Brunswick cafe, causing 70 patrons to run "screaming" for the exits.

Khalid Aloush, 28, and Khalid Ayche, 30, were drunk and angry and had demanded entry when security turned them away from the La Mirage reception centre in Somerton in April last year.

Melbourne Magistrates Court heard the pair had wanted to see the popular singer Fares Karam, but instead later went to the Rotana Cafe in Sydney Road at 12.30am on April 12.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Gary Steel said earlier in a summary that the pair became angry and abusive inside the cafe, where Aloush smashed a number of shisha pipes and numerous glass tables.

Senior Constable Steel said both demanded food and liquor at the alcohol-free cafe before Ayche, who did not cause any damage, threatened the manager over calling police.

Barrister John Saunders, for Aloush, an electrician, said his client had no memory of the incident. He had been drinking heavily and took offence "to being refused entry" at La Mirage.

Mr Saunders said Aloush was shot in Geelong the following December, for which no one had been charged, and that since he becomes "agitated" when the incident is raised.

With Aloush facing three months' jail for breaching a suspended prison sentence for unrelated driving offences – and needing to show exceptional circumstances not to have it restored – magistrate Amanda Chambers adjourned his case for a pre-sentence assessment.

He pleaded guilty to charges of riotous behaviour and criminal damage.

Costas Kilias, for Ayche, who pleaded guilty to riotous behaviour, said his client had not played an active role in the damage, but had offered support for his friend.

Mr Kilias said Ayche, a demolition labourer, had no excuse for his conduct, for which there was a "contexual" explanation.

"None of this would have happened," he argued, "if they had been allowed to enter La Mirage to hear the famous Lebanese singer Fares Karam.

"Perhaps the music may have calmed the savage beast," he suggested.

"This night out for he and his friend went south when they were rejected [at the door]."

Mr Kilias said his client had been married for seven years, had two children, had no psychological problems and "otherwise led a fairly normal life".

He conceded that the offence was committed among a tight-knit community and "one of the burdens" for Ayche was "living with the stares and shame" since the incident.

In his sentencing submissions, Senior Constable Steel argued the aggravating feature of the offence was that the cafe was crowded and the conduct of the men "ramped up the level of fear and all 70 patrons jumped up and ran out screaming from the venue".

In sentencing him, Ms Chambers told Ayche the incident was nasty and serious, had caused "havoc" at the cafe and had been frightening.

She said that he was otherwise a hard-working member of the community.

Ayche was convicted and fined $1000.

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