Man given 300 hours of community service for Centrelink assault

NO JAIL: An early guilty plea stopped a man from being sentenced to jail for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. FILE PHOTO
NO JAIL: An early guilty plea stopped a man from being sentenced to jail for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. FILE PHOTO

A man who punched another man in the ear causing it to bleed after getting into an argument in a queue at Centrelink has appeared in court.

Ashley McLeay, 23, of Lone Pine Avenue, was sentenced to 300 hours of community services in Orange Local Court on Monday for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The assault took place about 3.30pm on January 4 when the victim was standing behind McLeay in the Centrelink queue and they started arguing.

According to police facts, McLeay grabbed the victim by the front of his shirt and moved him towards the computers but a security officer intervened and grabbed the accused and took him out the front then told the victim to leave as well.

The accused approached the victim again in the foyer and punched him four to six times in the ear and jaw with his right fist causing his ear to bleed.

According to police the victim did not attempt to fight back  but grabbed the accused’s wrists and told him to stop and that the police were coming.

McLeay left before police arrived but was found in a nearby car park and was arrested.

He was represented in court by solicitor Gerry Stapleton who said the victim had said things about his client publicly in the past and McLeay admitted to police that he should have handled the situation differently.

“In the circumstances surrounding the offence, the victim was standing behind him in the Centrelink office, the victim and he have a problematic past,” Mr Stapleton said.

“Since the incident has has complied with his bail conditions.

“He has one similar matter that occurred four and a half years ago.”

McLeay was sentenced by magistrate David Day who said his first inclination was to send him to jail.

“The fact that he entered a plea of guilt early is the only thing that’s keeping him out of the dock,” Mr Day said.

“I’m inclined for the community to get some value out of him rather than him being a drain on the community as a supported prisoner.”