Old 20th Mar 2014, 20:25
  #11585 (permalink)  
Captain Sand Dune
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Victoria
Age: 59
Posts: 984
I know I sound like a broken record on this subject, but here’s yet another example of a magistrate with absolutely no connection with reality. This magistrate even goes so far as to suggest that the campaign against ‘coward punches’ is being driven by the media.
I suggest that the next time this scrote thumps someone it will be on this magistrates head. Australia's judiciary are time and again proving they have little interest in enforcing the communities’ expectations of justice.
A WELL-CONNECTED law clerk has escaped punishment after a cowardly king-hit in a pub which a lenient magistrate has said was not “gratuitous violence”, sparking concern at the highest levels of government and outrage among anti-violence campaigners.
In letting Virgil Macquarie Power, 29, off without a conviction, Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan also scoffed at campaigns against coward punches being prioritised over domestic violence, which she said was more common. Ms Callaghan concluded Power’s single violent punch, which caused almost $24,000 damage to his victim’s face, was not an example of “gratuitous violence”.
Mr Power, who hails from one of Queensland’s most distinguished legal dynasties, walked away with 240 hours’ community service even while Ms Callaghan admitted she would normally consider a jail sentence for violence.
She said Power’s offer to pay all medical costs showed he was remorseful.
The Courier-Mail understands police prosecutors are outraged and are considering appealing the sentence.
The magistrate’s comments follow two deaths from coward punches on the Sunshine Coast and come amid widespread community support for tougher sentencing for alcohol-fuelled violence. However during the court hearing, Ms Callaghan brushed over the police prosecutor’s pointed comments about One Punch Can Kill campaigns, responding that they were being run by editors of newspapers. Her decision and comments have raised concerns at the highest levels of government and outraged anti-violence campaigners.
Premier Campbell Newman said while he cannot comment on individual cases, “it appeared some decisions failed to reflect community expectations”. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said: “I’m concerned that a conviction was not recorded and that this person received community service and no jail time at all.’’ Anti-violence advocate Paul Stanley slammed Ms Callaghan, describing her attitude towards one-punch violence as “bulls**t”. “We’re not differentiating between domestic violence and any other type of violence, the point is people die.’’ Ross Thompson of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group called the sentence “disgusting” and said Ms Callaghan’s comments “were flippant” and showed how out of touch she was with community values.
Revealing security footage shows Mr Power landed one powerfully swift punch to Michael Halbauer’s head at Laguna Jacks steak house in Noosa Heads in September.
The 23-year-old victim was taken by surprise and collapsed to the floor face first. He suffered extensive damage to his face and teeth and a $23,278 medical bill, which included $15,867 for rhinoplasty surgery.
Premier Campbell Newman rejected assertions that “concern over coward punches was generated by media campaigns”. “In recent months the Government has been seeking the views of Queenslanders about alcohol fuelled violence and it is apparent there is a genuine and widespread concern over this issue,” Mr Newman said. “I fully understand why there are community calls for mandatory sentencing when it would appear some decisions fail to reflect community expectations.”
Mr Bleijie told ABC radio: “If you watch the video of this coward punch, what concerns me most is that the particular judicial officer was saying these were a figment of imagination of editor or journalists.
“I’m from the Sunshine Coast and we’ve had two gentlemen die of coward punches in the last little while. It’s not figure of anyone’s imaginations.’’ He said he was keeping a “watching brief” on the case as police considered an appeal. “There may be avenues for me as well.”
Anti-violence advocate Paul Stanley, whose son Matthew, 15, was punched and killed by another teen at a birthday party in 2006, said Ms Callaghan’s sentencing was grossly unfair. “This scum walked up to the guy and belted him. End of story.
“It’s disgraceful that a judge can turn around and go ‘Oh, There are worse things. Oh, he’s sorry because he’s got $24,000 in his hip pocket. That’s bull**t’,” Mr Stanley said. He said the suggestion that addressing alcohol-fuelled violence wasn’t as important tackling domestic violence was ridiculous.

Sunshine Coast magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has come under fire for lenient sentencing in the past. “If you ever have to kneel beside your son when he’s lying on the ground in a pool of blood with blood coming out of his mouth and nose and ears and then try to turn around and say ‘It’s not as bad as something or other or something else’ that is absolute and utter garbage.”
Mr Stanley said he was glad the media ran one punch can kill campaigns. “It was almost the same as what happened to my son,” Mr Stanley, sho established the Matthew Stanley Foundation after his son’s death, said. “A guy walked up to Matthew and punched him. “These scum are walking the streets, hitting people committing acts of violence and getting away with it. “We’re not differentiating between domestic violence and any other type of violence, the point is people die.
“It doesn’t matter who the person is, this perpetrator is now able to walk the streets again.’’
Ross Thompson said he intended to contact Mr Bleijie to make a formal complaint against the decision. “I’m angry. I don’t get angry, but I’ve been stewing on this all morning. I saw it this morning at 5 o’clock when I woke up and all I saw then was red, and I haven’t gone past that. “The justice system here is absolutely truly blind. They need to open their eyes,” he said.
Mr Thompson said the suggestion by Ms Callaghan that the One Punch Can Kill campaign was a “beat-up” was a slap in the face for those who had spent tireless hours working to curb violence in the community. “All the judiciary are, are feeding it. You know, they’re giving this generation a … free hit. “How are they preventing this violence from happening? Certainly not by giving these sorts of decisions and making these sorts of comments,” he said.
In the coward punch case, Mr Power pleaded guilty and got the best legal representation to try to minimise the damage. He hired one of Queensland’s leading and most expensive criminal lawyers, Tony Glynn QC, who has represented the likes of murderer Max Sica and con man Peter Foster. Mr Glynn impressed the magistrate with a pile of 20 references which he furnished to the court, which included a number of legal professionals, some of whom Ms Callaghan acknowledged had appeared before her in court.
Mr Power, a law graduate whose direct paternal line traces back to the first Queensland-born Supreme Court Judge Virgil Power (1895-1910), is the fifth generation of Virgil Power to enter the profession.
In sentencing, Ms Callaghan took Mr Power’s legal ambitions into consideration and also noted the punch was “out of character”.
Police alleged there was “no suggestion” the victim had spoken to Mr Power that night but Ms Callaghan accepted the defence’s submission that Mr Power had been intimidated by him earlier in the night. She accepted Mr Power had punched the victim because he was “in fear of the complainant” and because his own experiences as an assault victim made him nervous. “Because of this, I do find that this assault could not be defined as gratuitous violence,” she said.
In the same week Ms Callaghan let Virgil Power walk, she gave two years’ probation and no jail sentence to Joshua Wood, whose unprovoked and random single punch to the face of Thomas Cervi in Noosa broke his palate and caused $10,000 dental damage.
Police prosecutor Sgt Phil Stephens told the court Mr Halbauer had been celebrating his birthday and walked inside from the outside balcony to buy a drink. The security tape shows Mr Halbauer being splashed with the contents of a drink unexpectedly hurled at his back by Mr Power. As he turns around, with his wallet in both hands, Mr Halbauer is punched to the left side of his face by a single right-fist strike.
Sgt Stephens said the attack was “out of the blue”, indefensible and an example of “gratuitous violence”.
However Ms Callaghan indicated she did not class this attack in that category.
QUEENSLAND magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has scoffed at the prominence of “one punch can kill” campaigns. The Sunshine Coast magistrate argued the campaigns were driven by “editors of newspapers” and the crime was not as common as domestic violence.
During a hearing for 29-year-old Virgil Macquarie Power, who pleaded guilty to a coward punch on a stranger, Ms Callaghan told the court campaigns against alcohol-fuelled violence were given priority ahead of domestic violence.
The Queensland and NSW governments have made curbing alcohol-fuelled violence a priority, while community groups such as the Matthew Stanley Foundation have campaigned to discourage would-be attackers.
At one point during Power’s hearing, prosecutor Sergeant Phil Stephens pointed out incidents of violent assaults were becoming “quite common these days”.
Ms Callaghan responded with “Not as common as domestic violence”, before clarifying she was making the comment as an aside.
“There are plenty of media campaigns in relation to the ‘one punch can kill’, and certainly there is an attitude of the community that this type of behaviour is unacceptable,” Sgt Stephens said.
Ms Callaghan interjected: “Editors of newspapers, perhaps. Yes. Run the community campaign as opposed to running a campaign against domestic violence.”
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