Former Cannonvale chef attacks apprentice in broad daylight
A man who attacked a former work colleague, who is more than decade younger than him, told the Proserpine court he was trying to help the man move away from drugs.
Liam Walters pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm in Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.
On March 13 last year, Walters went to Coles in Cannonvale to pick up some supplies for Banjo’s Bar and Bistro, where he worked as a chef.
When the 30-year-old man left the supermarket, he saw a former friend and work colleague standing near the pharmacy.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Sean Franklin said Walters and the 18-year-old man recently had a falling out.
A verbal altercation broke out between the two men before Walters punched the 18-year-old man in the head.
The assault continued as Walters grabbed the man, pushed him backwards over a trolley rack and then pulled the teen’s head back by his hair while striking him in the face.
He then pushed him into the front wall of the pharmacy before the 18-year-old man ran away.
Sen-Sgt Franklin said the younger man did not retaliate or fight back during the assault.
However, he approached Walters soon after he had run away and another argument broke out, which ended with Walters headbutting the teen.
The court heard Walters admitted to the assault to police but said the headbutt was necessary because he felt threatened by the teen.
Sen-Sgt Franklin said the younger man was taken to Proserpine Hospital with a small cut and swelling on his face, rib pain and slight disfigurement to his nose.
“Remarkably, the injuries are rather minor compared to the nature of the sustained assault,” he said.
Walters has no previous criminal history and is from Gippsland, Victoria.
Duty lawyer Peta Vernon told the court Walters moved to the Whitsundays in 2019 to work in his cousin’s restaurant, which failed after a short time.
Walters then worked at another restaurant before moving into the kitchen at Banjo’s.
The 18-year-old was an apprentice at one of the restaurants where Walters worked.
Ms Vernon said their friendship soured when the younger man started taking drugs.
“I’m instructed that Mr Walters said ‘Wake up to yourself, you don’t want to go down this path’.”
The court heard there were some “harsh” text messages sent between the pair in the week leading up to the assault.
Ms Vernon claimed the teen also showed up at Walters’s house when his children were home and was “acting aggressively and swearing and yelling abuse”.
She said the incident at Coles erupted when the younger man saw Walters and yelled out “What are you laughing at, c**t?”
The court heard Walters went to counselling both before and after the assault and had plans to become a drug and alcohol counsellor in Victoria.
Magistrate James Morton condemned Walters for the public spectacle.
“You might think he’s a smart arse and a drug user, but you’ve taken things way too far, and in public,” Mr Morton said.
“I don’t take very lightly to people who think they can throw their fists around in the community.”
Mr Morton said it was not up to Walters to take the law into his own hands.
Walters was fined $1000 and ordered to give the 18-year-old man $500 in compensation.
No conviction was recorded.