Man who punched co-worker jailed
A 25-year-old New Zealand man who struck a work colleague to the head in a drunken one-punch attack in Kojonup last year, resulting in life-threatening brain injuries, has been jailed for 18 months.
Rewiata Horitu George was sentenced in Albany District Court on Monday after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm.
The incident occurred at his home on October 8.
George and the victim had both been working as shearing contractors in Kojonup and were drinking with others at a home before they returned to George’s home later in the night.
State prosecutor David Davidson said George had become enraged by the victim repeatedly hugging him in a drunken state and annoying him.
He struck the victim twice, including once to the head.
The 23-year-old fell backwards from the punch and struck his head on the concrete outside the front steps of the home, which knocked him unconscious.
The court was told he remained in a critical condition for two days in Royal Perth Hospital with “traumatic brain swelling”, required multiple lifesaving procedures and was in a coma for a significant period.
Mr Davidson described the incident as a “senseless act of violence” and called for an immediate prison term.
He said the victim had since suffered memory loss and found it difficult to swallow because of the brain injury.
“Whatever the scenario it was really minimal provocation,” Mr Davidson said.
“He had to be revived for survival and without intervention he would have died.”
George’s defence lawyer said the punch was thrown with no malicious intent, referring to witness statements that described it as a “bugger-off punch”.
It was accepted George struck the man twice but only once to the head and while the injuries received were at the higher end of the scale, the act fell towards the lower end of seriousness.
Judge Julie Wager said one punch with alcohol involved could result in “tragic circumstances” and general deterrence was needed so people thought twice about resorting to violence.
“That tragic event has impacted your life and significantly on his life,” she said.
“People do have to know that if they become involved in violence it isn’t going to be tolerated.”
George was made eligible for parole with the sentenced backdated from July 11.
That tragic event has impacted your life and significantly on his life. Judge Julie Wager