Student convicted of assaulting police after bar eviction
AN ENGINEERING student who assaulted a police officer after being kicked out of a Byron Bay bar has been sentenced.
When Queensland man Lewis Samuels, 22, faced Byron Bay Local Court on Monday, barrister Paula Morreau entered guilty pleas on his behalf for assaulting police, resisting police, using offensive language in a public place and remaining in the vicinity of a licenced premises after being excluded.
According to court documents, Samuels had been drinking at Woody’s Surf Shack on Jonson St late on the night of December 27 last year when he was removed by security because he was intoxicated.
After being escorted outside, security staff asked him to leave the area but he began yelling and swearing at them, and threw a beer can at one of them.
Security staff flagged down police who were driving past and Samuels swore at them as well, the court heard.
He continued to hurl abuse at them as he tried to unlock a bicycle chain to leave the area.
He then swung a punch at a senior constable’s face, connecting with his lower jaw and lip.
Ms Morreau acknowledged it was a “serious offence” but said it was “opportunistic” and “unplanned”.
“It involved a push and a punch, not an extended attack,” Ms Morreau said.
“The degree of ferocity and violence of this offence is very low.”
She tendered to the court various references from those close to Samuels, saying the incident was out of character.
“They’re all completely shocked with his behaviour, as is he,” she said.
She also tendered a letter of apology from Samuels to the police officer.
The court heard Samuels had moved from St Lucia in Brisbane back to his family home in Robina and had sought advice from his GP about “the implications of intoxication”.
Ms Morreau said he hadn’t engaged in “problematic drinking behaviour” since the incident and asked the court to spare him a conviction.
She said to work as an engineer in Queensland, Samuels would be subject to consideration of his fitness to work in the field.
The court heard a conviction wouldn’t automatically disqualify him from the profession.
Magistrate Karen Stafford said assaults on police carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison – three years more than ordinary common assault – because of the “specific vulnerability” of their position.
“Why should my sentencing be constrained by a discretionary decision made by the board of engineers in Queensland?” Ms Stafford said.
“There has to be a message sent out to the community.
“Even if you’re unlikely to reoffend … you need to be held accountable for your actions.
“There needs to be some recognition to the harm that’s suffered by police officers.
“In my view, letting you leave here without a conviction just does not address any of the principals of sentencing.”
She convicted him of each offence, fined him $500 for resisting police and gave him a 12 month community corrections order for the assault.