JAILED: Bumming a ciggie sparks brutal bashing in Warwick
ARMED with a metal pole, Tony Douglas Costello marched into the Criterion Hotel and swung it at the man who had been berating him all evening, all because of a request to bum a cigarette.
Costello denied the man his nicotine, which sparked yet another episode of alcohol-fuelled violence in the Rose City.
His lawyer Clare Hine yesterday at Warwick Magistrates Court said that the victim proceeded to punch her client twice and yell abuse at him throughout the evening.
Just before midnight on a Friday night last February, Costello took matters into his own hands.
Magistrate Bevan Manthey said the 26-year-old swung the pole at the victim.
The victim ducked to allow his shoulder to bear the brunt of the blow rather than his head.
The court heard the man fell to the ground, where Costello continued to punch him, and even though people tried to restrain him, he also "threw in a couple of kicks".
Magistrate Manthey said the victim was left with a gash in the back of his head and bruising to his face and arms.
Costello pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed, as well as four unrelated charges including public nuisance, drink and drug-driving.
Ms Hine said the pair were unknown to each other and there was no reports of the victim requiring treatment for his injuries.
Costello had turned to alcohol to cope with the sudden death of his girlfriend four years ago, she said.
"He is a hard-working young man, he's in full-time employment and has a small history," she said.
"He took things way too far, he's lucky there wasn't a serious injury."
Ms Hine asked Mr Manthey to consider sentencing the Mount Edwards man to jail time but grant immediate parole or suspend the sentence.
But Mr Manthey was adamant Costello should serve time behind bars.
"I've consistently said assaults around a licensed premises, unfortunately they are prevalent, and I have consistently said they are not tolerated," he said.
"For someone to leave the premises and then return with an iron bar, he's had plenty of time to cool down."
Mr Manthey said he took into account Costello had submitted an early plea of guilty and had cooperated.
He sentenced him to 18 months' jail but he will be released on parole on March 18.
"I don't accept you should not serve any period of imprisonment, actual custody for this, because I would be sending the wrong message not only to you but to others out there," Mr Manthey said.
Costello was disqualified from driving for 12 months for the traffic offences.