A man who drunkenly punched an unsuspecting nightclub patron because he was ‘‘getting close to my girl’’ has been sentenced to three months’ weekend detention.
The victim of the attack was left with a broken nose and fractures to his eye socket and cheekbone and doctors were required to attach permanent metal plates to his face.
Outside court, the victim’s father said he was ‘‘bitterly disappointed’’ with the sentence, saying such leniency was failing to deter alcohol-fuelled violence in the community.
It did not match the pain and heartache it had caused his son and family. ‘‘Victims and their families carry a real sentence for many years, that of rebuilding lives and overcoming the trauma of these completely mindless and life-changing attacks,’’ he said.
The attack occurred at Mooseheads nightclub on London Circuit in the early hours of a Sunday morning in June last year.
Orry Kuzma, 19, had engaged in a marathon drinking session, which started at 10 or 11am on Saturday morning and continued well into the night and early Sunday morning.
About 4am he saw a man he had never seen, spoken to or known indirectly talking to his ex-girlfriend. He walked up to the unsuspecting victim, using the woman to hide his approach. Kuzma then landed what magistrate Robert Cook described as a ‘‘cheap shot lacking in courage’’ to the victim’s face. The man was knocked unconscious and fell backwards on the floor.
He was helped by club security before being taken to hospital and treated for multiple facial fractures, bleeding, swelling and bruising.
Kuzma tried to flee the club but was held by security until police arrived.
The teenager later offered this explanation to officers: ‘‘Yeah, look, I’ll be straight up. I saw this bloke getting close to my girl, so I hit him. I’m not going to lie.’’
Kuzma was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday to eight months imprisonment, five months of which will be suspended with three months to be served by periodic detention.
Kuzma was also placed on a 15-month good behaviour order.
Mr Cook took into account the potential for Kuzma to be rehabilitated, particularly given his youth, and drew on a range of previous assault cases that attracted similar sentences.
He also considered the impact on the victim, noting that the young man would live with his memories of the night forever, just as Kuzma would. Kuzma, the court heard, had a supportive family, stable employment and had reduced his alcohol consumption significantly.
Mr Cook accepted Kuzma had since shown remorse and now comprehended what he had done.
The teenager had written to his victim after the attack to say how sorry he was, claiming he thought about what he had done every night.
The letter was not delivered because of Kuzma’s bail conditions.
The sentence comes less than a week after another Canberran single-punch offender, sentenced for a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, avoided time behind bars.
It also comes during a time of intense public focus on alcohol-fuelled violence, with the NSW government announcing a proposal to introduce mandatory minimum sentencing for one-punch assaults and other alcohol and drug-related offences.
The victim’s father, who did not want to be identified, struggled to hold back his emotions as he delivered a statement outside the court on Wednesday.
He said the sentence was not commensurate with the level of stress and trauma the crime had on his family and son.
‘‘This decision, following the suspended sentence issued last week by the court, flies in the face of community anger and outrage at the perceived injustice of offenders receiving sentences that bear little consequence in terms of deprivation of liberty,’’ the victim’s father said.