A casual conversation about clothing and the weather turned inexplicably violent when a Queanbeyan pub regular headbutted a stranger so hard he knocked one of the victim's teeth out.
Joshua Clarke, 24, initially denied being responsible for the "completely unprovoked" attack despite having been captured on CCTV at Hotel Queanbeyan in his high-visibility work shirt.
"I bumped me head," he told police while still sporting a visible wound where his forehead had smashed into the victim's mouth.
But he later came clean and pleaded guilty in Queanbeyan Local Court in April to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Magistrate Roger Clisdell sentenced the local man on Monday to eight months in jail, but directed that Clarke be allowed to serve the term in the community on an intensive correction order.
Court documents show the attack unfolded in February as Clarke spoke with a group of people outside the bathrooms at the venue commonly known as Top Pub.
Clarke and the victim "exchanged a few casual words about the clothing they were wearing and the weather".
For no apparent reason, Clarke then suddenly took a step towards the other man and headbutted him in the mouth.
"[The assault] caused [a] tooth to break off at gum level and caused a severe cut to the inside of the victim's lip," the documents say.
Hotel staff asked Clarke, who they recognised as a regular patron, to leave the venue as he began to bleed from the forehead.
When the 24-year-old later attended Queanbeyan Police Station, he tried to explain away his head wound with the unbelievable tale.
He also shook his head and said "nah" when asked if he had been at the pub at the time in question.
But Clarke ended up agreeing he was the person identified on hotel CCTV footage in an "almost identical" work shirt to the one he had worn to the police station.
Clarke's lawyer, Megan North, told Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday that the man had since shown "genuine remorse".
"This is ... very much out-of-character for Mr Clarke," she said.
Ms North said Clarke remembered the victim "talking to one of his friends' girlfriends", but "he can't explain his conduct" other than to say he "read [a] situation wrong while heavily intoxicated".
Mr Clisdell said it seemed Clarke had been "as drunk as drunk can be" when he attacked "an unsuspecting victim".
The magistrate described the victim's injury as "extremely painful", with court documents showing the man will need ongoing dental care in addition to the "extensive repair" works already completed.
According to the documents, "there is a high probability" the victim will have permanent nerve damage to his front teeth.
"So forceful was the headbutt that Mr Clarke had a bleeding forehead," Mr Clisdell mused.
The magistrate said Clarke's crime was so serious a jail sentence was the only option.
But he said he was satisfied the 24-year-old was already well and truly on the path to rehabilitation, "and that's one of the reasons [Clarke]'s not going into custody today".
Mr Clisdell told Clarke that as part of his intensive correction order, he must abstain from alcohol and be subject to supervision.
The magistrate also banned the 24-year-old from entering any hotels or clubs in Queanbeyan for the eight-month term.
"No RSL, no Leagues Club, no nothing in Queanbeyan," Mr Clisdell said.
"If you want to go to the pub and get into trouble, don't do it in Queanbeyan."
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