Alan Bryson.
Alan Bryson.

Hostel owner faces assault charge for grabbing backpacker

A BOWEN hostel owner has admitted to grabbing a former tenant from behind and claiming she owed him rent amid reports she had been dealing drugs in the area.

Bowen Magistrates Court heard Alan Bryson sent the 20-year-old woman a text to let her know there was a parcel for her to collect at Harbourside Homestay.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Jay Merchant told the court the woman went to the hostel office to collect the delivery in July, but Bryson told her she would not get her parcel until she paid her outstanding rent.

Sgt Merchant said the woman then went behind the front desk to get the parcel so Bryson, the owner and manager of the hostel, grabbed her from behind with both arms.

The woman struggled to get free so they both fell onto a couch, then the woman fled from the office.

 

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Sgt Merchant said police interviewed Bryson, 76, and he admitted to restraining the woman so she would not get away without paying her rent.

"He stated he did not have permission to hold onto her and let her go when he began suffering a medical episode," Sgt Merchant said.

Sgt Merchant said the matter had been set down for a hearing later this month, but instead was proceeding as a sentence.

Bryson pleaded guilty to one count of common assault.

Lawyer Kevin Baxter, acting for Bryson, said the woman was dismissed from her tenancy at the hostel for various reasons including reports she had been dealing drugs in Bowen.

"The parcel which arrived was similar to previous parcels that were received and collected by the woman," Mr Baxter said.

"When he contacted her advising the parcel was available, she turned up very promptly to collect the parcel."

Alan Bryson fronted court for grabbing a backpacker who owed him rent. Photo: File
Alan Bryson fronted court for grabbing a backpacker who owed him rent. Photo: File

To pick up the delivery, Mr Baxter said the woman had to walk around the counter then across the office space and had no permission to do that, so she was "clearly trespassing".

Mr Baxter also claimed the woman had a struggle with Bryson's wife, who was knocked to the floor and injured as a result.

The court heard Bryson also called the police that day to make a complaint about the woman.

Mr Baxter asked Magistrate James Morton to consider not recording a conviction given the Bowen man's relatively clean criminal history and the circumstances of the offence.

"Although the woman was restrained there is no allegation she suffered any physical injury," Mr Baxter said.

"In his position as a manager of backpacker premises a conviction for an assault on a backpacker is not particularly helpful."

 

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Magistrate James Morton told Bryson his behaviour was "mistaken" and "unjustified".

Mr Morton said word would get around on the backpacker grapevine about the incident and he had no right to withhold the woman's property.

"This could have been dealt with in a more civilised and professional manner," Mr Morton said.

"I dare to think that this was a young bloke, a young male, you wouldn't have done such a thing.

"But you picked on a young female backpacker who's vulnerable.

"Whatever you think your intel was about drugs being imported or used, I don't think you've got the right to do such a thing."

Bryson was fined $650 and no conviction was recorded.


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