An angry coward puncher who put a fellow pubgoer in hospital for months has been urged to think every day about his "abhorrent" actions after narrowly avoiding time behind bars.
Electrician Zane Daniel, of Carwoola, was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday to three years and six months in jail.
Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson directed that he be allowed to serve the term in the community by way of an intensive correction order, with conditions including 500 hours of community service.
CCTV footage tendered to the court shows Daniel, 26, playing pool at a Civic Pub table adjacent to the victim on the night in question in August 2019.
Tension developed between the pair's respective groups throughout the night as their cues got in each other's way.
When the victim began speaking to Daniel's partner from across a table, Daniel violently grabbed the man's shirt and suddenly struck him in the face and throat, knocking the victim out.
Daniel appeared to show little concern in the aftermath, heading back to his group and finishing his drink as the victim lay unconscious on the ground.
The victim, who had to be resuscitated, was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
He remained there for 75 days, spending three days in an induced coma and a week in intensive care.
Daniel was, meanwhile, charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.
He was acquitted of that charge following a judge-alone trial last year, but found guilty of the lesser alternative of causing grievous bodily harm.
In sentencing on Tuesday morning, Justice Loukas-Karlsson described the victim's injuries as "extreme".
She said the incident had been "a life-changing event" for the victim, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and may never fully recover from some ongoing medical issues.
"The offender's conduct has resulted in tragic consequences," she said.
"Our society abhors attacks of this nature."
The judge said references tendered to the court on behalf of the electrician described his crime as surprising and out of character.
She accepted that Daniel was unlikely to reoffend, but said she had to impose a sentence that would deter other young men from violent behaviour at licensed premises.
While prosecutor Morgan Howe had pushed for a sentence of full-time imprisonment, Daniel was assessed as suitable for a community-based alternative and his lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith, urged the court to take the latter option.
Justice Loukas-Karlsson ultimately decided on the intensive correction order, which will require Daniel to move to the ACT and live with his mother.
She noted that the 500 hours of community service she ordered Daniel to complete was the maximum she could have imposed, saying this reflected the seriousness of the victim's injuries.
"The consequences for the victim are appalling," Justice Loukas-Karlsson told Daniel.
"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.
"It's unacceptable. Our society abhors what happened. You understand that. The courts must stop this."
Justice Loukas-Karlsson went on to warn Daniel against putting "a foot wrong" while on the intensive correction order, which could be cancelled in favour of full-time jail in the event of a breach.
"Your life goes on in the same way, but the life of the victim does not," the judge told Daniel.
"Imagine if he had coward punched you instead of you coward punching him. Imagine that.
"I want you to think about that every day. What you did was unnecessary."
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