$3000 compensation to fight victim
A MAN who pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge more than a decade ago put a $3000 compensation offer to his 17-year-old female Emerald assault victim before he set foot in court.
Clinton John Burns pleaded guilty to charges of assault occasioning bodily harm, assaulting a police officer and obstructing police when he appeared in the Rockhampton Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Police prosecutor Steve Atkinson told the court two police officers witnessed Burns' attack on the young Indigenous woman in Emerald on Friday night at 9.15pm when patrolling near The Irish Village.
He said Burns punched the victim several times before she fell to the ground. He then kicked her in the head.
Mr Atkinson said she ended up with a laceration to the back of her head, along with swelling and bruising to her face.
The court heard police then yelled "police, you're under arrest" and Burns turned and attempted to run away.
During a struggle to get away from the officers, Burns punched one of them in the chest.
The victim was not known to Burns, who was a resident of North Rockhampton.
Defence lawyer Doug Winning said in relation to Burns' criminal history, the majority were street offences from when he lived in Tasmania.
He said Burns pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in Tasmania in 2000 for a matter in which he claimed he did not carry out the violent act that led to the death of a person, but had been present when it happened.
Burns received a nine-month wholly suspended prison sentence and two-year good behaviour for that incident.
"In my 25 years (practising law), I've never heard of a person being placed on a suspended sentence for a manslaughter charge," Mr Winning said.
Mr Winning said his client was so remorseful for what he had done to the 17-year-old in Emerald that, in consultation with her family, he offered $3000 to her.
"My client doesn't recall the incident," he said.
"He was rollicking drunk."
Mr Winning said it appears they were all drinking when the incident occurred, which happened after an exchange of words between the victim and Burns, and his friends.
"The real penalty, if he was to go to prison, would actually be on his family (unemployed wife and six-year-old)," he said.
He had spent three days in custody and his wife pledged to make him attended an ATODS course for his drinking problems.
Magistrate Barry Cosgrove sentenced Burns to six months jail wholly suspended, an 18-month good behaviour bond and ordered he pay $3000 to the victim.
"You are fortunate you are not before the court on a more serious charge for which you could expect a lengthy prison period," he said.
"These sort of drunken assaults are far too common in this part of Queensland."