Crane operator Buck Beitzel leaves the Gladstone Court after receiving a suspended jail sentence for an assault at the Reef Hotel.
Crane operator Buck Beitzel leaves the Gladstone Court after receiving a suspended jail sentence for an assault at the Reef Hotel. Paul Braven

Union rep narrowly avoids jail after pub punch

A UNION rep who punched a drinker who had knocked his table and spilled the beers has been given a suspended jail sentence.

A verbal argument took place in Gladstone's Reef Hotel, and as the other man looked at a security guard, Buck Beitzel whacked him once in the face.

The man fell against a wall and slid to the floor, breaking his leg.

But top Gold Coast criminal lawyer Bill Potts disputed that Beitzel's single punch caused the man's leg to break, and the charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm was dismissed when police offered no evidence.

Instead, Beitzel, 36, a senior Universal Cranes supervisor and CFMEU representative for more than 300 workers, pleaded guilty to the downgraded charge of assault causing bodily harm.

Mr Potts said the agreed injury was the pain and bruising to the victim's jaw, as Beitzel "could not have foreseen the leg injury" by his act.

Prosecutor Nina Sulzer said Beitzel was not wearing a shirt when police arrived in the crowded bar at 1am on December 8, 2013.

In agreed police facts she said patrons had been "shoulder to shoulder" and as the victim made his way through the crowd, he bumped the table where Beitzel and others sat.

Mr Potts said there were two scourges in this country - domestic violence and young men in hotels drinking to excess causing significant injury.

 

Ms Sulzer said words were exchanged and a bouncer had to step in between them, saying: "Hey boys, let's just calm down. My shout for a beer".

The men took no notice and shaped up in a boxer stance, but when the man looked at the bouncer she said Beitzel punched the victim on the chin.

Mr Potts said there were two scourges in this country - domestic violence and young men in hotels drinking to excess causing significant injury.

A Queensland Judge recently made comment that drunken men on a night out would hardly be deterred by legislation.

Instead punishment could be seen to be "society's revenge".

He told magistrate Penelope Hay that sentencing, in the Australian colloquial, "comes down to a fair thing".

He said the victim stood 6ft 7inches tall... "substantially larger than my client".

Ms Hay took into account that the injured man partially lost consciousness, and Beitzel had a prior criminal history that included violence.

Ms Hay said she would have considered eight months jail but for mitigating factors.

She sentenced Beitzel to four months jail, immediately suspended for 12 months, warning that if he reoffended he would likely serve time.



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