"It sickens me" was how a remorseful health worker with 17 years of experience described his chokehold on a man, leaving him unconscious before he slumped to the ground where he suffered traumatic brain bleed.
Alexander Rujak, a Canberra Hospital wards man and response team member, went to put the victim in a chokehold in a "misguided attempt" to protect two others whom the victim was being aggressive towards during a night out last year.
The 38-year-old Queanbeyan man fronted the ACT Supreme Court last week after pleading guilty to one count of causing grievous bodily harm.
Facts tendered to the court state that about 2.30am on January 12 last year, Rujak was with other patrons, including the victim, in the smoking area of Capital Men's Club.
Rujak, who had been drinking during the night, saw the victim being aggressive towards the other men before he placed the victim in a chokehold.
About six-to-seven seconds later, the victim lost consciousness and Rujak released his chokehold, leaving the victim to collapse and hit his head on the concrete ground.
I was surprised at how quickly the victim was rendered unconscious.Justice John Burns
He sustained a laceration to his head before "a large amount of blood began to pool under his head".
Other patrons gave him first aid before an ambulance took him to Canberra Hospital where he was admitted to the ICU.
Rujak seemed oblivious to what he did to the victim before leaving the venue. He handed himself into police later that day.
Prior to the sentence being delivered, Rujak gave evidence, saying he "prayed for this guy to be okay".
"I've seen it first hand. One punch victims ... I've personally done CPR on them," Rujak said.
"It sickens me. I could've caused that person to be really seriously injured."
Rujak said he could not remember much from the incident because "I was very intoxicated" but remembered the victim initially threatening to glass him.
"He went towards the other two young fellas and I thought he was going to have a fight so I just grabbed him," Rujak said.
He said his intention was to pull the victim back and said he "would love to" apologise to the victim.
A medical report by Amanda Barry showed the victim's injury was considered "mild traumatic" and that until at least March 2020, he was still experiencing headaches and had some memory loss.
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CCTV footage of the incident was also played to the court during sentencing.
Justice John Burns sentenced Rujak to a fully suspended 10-month jail term with a good behaviour order for 12 months.
"I was surprised at how quickly the victim was rendered unconscious," Justice Burns said.
"I accept what you did was a misguided attempt to protect two other patrons."
Justice Burns said he acknowledged Rujak having no prior convictions and his positive character references.
"The testimonials refer to the fact that you have never been aggressive in undertaking this work and that you are always conciliatory even in the face of very significant provocation," he said.
The judge said he accepted the offender's remorse and that he had abstained from drinking alcohol since the offence.
Earlier in the hearing, Crown prosecutor Trent Hickey said the consequences from being rendered unconscious made the offending objectively serious and required jail to deter others from committing the same offence.
Defence lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith said his client's actions were "an excessive self defence case ... albeit defence of another" and appears to be an "aberration" of his character.
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