A WARRNAMBOOL man attacked former Richmond captain Kane Johnson, biting his ear and punching him to the ground, after his girlfriend claimed the ex-footballer had inappropriately touched her on the dance floor at a wedding after-party, a court heard yesterday.
Matthew Barton’s girlfriend had considered making a formal complaint to police about what had happened to her but decided against it.
Barton, 24, whose family owns a large waste collection business in Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to intentionally causing serious injury to Johnson, 34, and recklessly causing serious injury to another guest, Angus McDonald, 27.
He was jailed for a total of 15 months with a non-parole period of five months.
Defence barrister Brian Bourke said Barton would appeal the sentence and he was immediately granted bail.
The court was told Johnson and McDonald had been to former Richmond player Kayne Pettifer’s wedding at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club before the guests, including Barton, continued on to the Laika Bar in Fitzroy Street at about 11.30pm for the after-party on February 4 last year.
Prosecutor Diana Hogan said Barton, a former Xavier College student, walked up to Johnson who was on the dance floor about 2.30am and put his arm around Johnson’s neck, pulled him close and bit him on the right ear. He had not met Johnson before the wedding.
Barton then hit Johnson with a flurry of punches to the face.
Momentarily stunned, Johnson fell backwards on to a chair as Barton continued to punch him in the face before security pulled him away. THE AGE
Barton then attacked McDonald in the beer garden, king-hitting him. McDonald was knocked unconscious after hitting his head on the footpath.
Barton was arrested by police after being subdued with capsicum spray.
Mr Bourke said a witness on the night claimed Johnson might have “cracked on” to Barton’s girlfriend, Jessica, but he did not know if it was true or not.
He said Jessica told Barton there had been “some, I suppose, molestation of her”.
Magistrate Jack Vandersteen interrupted Mr Bourke, saying he was going too far using colourful language.
Mr Bourke said Jessica claimed she had been touched more than once during the night and had indicated to Barton who had been responsible. He said this explained what had taken place since Barton had been heavily intoxicated at the time.
Barton’s mother Sherrie told the court that after her son had been locked up, she found Jessica in the bedroom in a state of distress.
“She’d been inappropriately touched by somebody on the dance floor,” Mrs Barton said.
“She twice told him to go away and then went and told Matthew. My son is not an aggressor. He doesn’t start things. He’s still the same loving, good kid.”
Mr Vandersteen said he would sentence Barton on the basis that he had been told something and acted upon this information.
“I make no findings at all as to whether or not what you were told was correct,” the magistrate told Barton.
Mr Vandersteen said he accepted Barton was remorseful for his actions and had apologised to both victims but he had to be jailed.
The magistrate said this type of assault case came before the courts too frequently and he needed to send a message to the community that alcohol-fuelled violence in licensed premises would not be tolerated.