One-punch attacker walks free after brain bleed assault
A YOUNG sportsman who attempted to break up a brawl was left fighting for his life after he was viciously attacked from behind during a night out in Hervey Bay.
His assailant, Jamie Lee Warner, won't spend a day behind bars after being immediately released on parole in Hervey Bay District Court yesterday over the cowardly attack.
Fuelled by a carton of premixed rum and a bottle of Jagermeister, a drunk Warner approached Tom Freshwater and delivered a massive blow to the back of the head in the early hours of October 14.
The punch - which Warner has no memory of - knocked the 23-year-old unconscious.
Mr Freshwater suffered a broken eye socket, fractures to the skull and severe bleeding to the brain.
He was airlifted to Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital where he recovered in a neurological ward for two weeks.
Warner, 19, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm.
The court heard a "chaotic" scene unfolded along the Esplanade prior to the event, in which a number of intoxicated men were involved in altercations.
It was while Mr Freshwater, who was visiting from Brisbane, attempted to stop one of these fights when Warner struck. When questioned by police, Warner had no explanation as to why he hit Mr Freshwater.
Warner, of Torquay, was sentenced to 18-months in jail and granted immediate parole.
Judge Julie Ryrie said it was Warner's young age, prospect of rehabilitation, and demonstrated remorse which kept him from being locked up.
The court heard Warner had lost multiple jobs since the tragic incident after his employers had found out about the charge, but currently works as an apprentice plumber.
Defence barrister Victoria Trafford-Walker said Warner has given up alcohol altogether since the violent offence, and was now focusing on excelling at work and helping his family.
"He feels devastated about this happening," Ms Trafford-Walker said.
"He is very sorry for (Tom), and particularly what (Tom) and his family have gone through.
"He wishes he could take it all back.
"He just wants to work and support his family, and own a plumbing business one day."
Despite having no recollection of the actual punch, Warner remembers seeing Mr Freshwater lying on the ground.
Judge Ryrie dubbed the attack to have been "spontaneous conduct" and described Warner to be "well on the path of rehabilitation", based on the information presented to her.
Initially, Warner was charged with grievous bodily harm but the charge had been downgraded.
Warner and Mr Freshwater knew each other prior to the incident. He had breached a suspended jail sentence when he committed the attack last October.
The court heard Warner intends to live with his girlfriend, who is pregnant with their first child, and her family.