Violent drunk is ‘a proven thug’, says Warrnambool magistrate

AN ACCOMPLISHED footballer who punched and kicked another man laying on the ground is “a proven thug”, according to a Warrnambool magistrate.

James Keane, 23, of Conns Lane, Illowa, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to affray and two charges of recklessly causing injury.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Sandra Skilton said that on September 8 last year Keane and an unknown co-accused were in Timor Street at 2am when they came across the victim, who Keane had known for 10 years and they argued.

The victim felt threatened and to avoid the confrontation ran towards Liebig Street.

Keane and the co-accused chased after the victim and the co-accused punched the victim to the head causing him to fall on the pavement.

The victim lifted his hands to his face to protect himself as the two men continued to punch then kick the victim to his face.

The victim needed four stitches to his right eye which is permanently scarred.

At 11.15pm on July 28 last year Keane was at the Cally Hotel where he had an argument with another man.

Keane later threw three punches at the victim with one punch hitting the man and causing him to fall.

Defence counsel Matt Senia said Keane was employed as a foreman at his father’s plumbing and excavation business and was an accomplished footballer who had played with Panmure in the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League.

Mr Senia said in relation to the July incident his client had been to his coach’s son’s christening in Koroit and decided to go out in Warrnambool with friends to the Cally Hotel.

He said Keane was quite intoxicated and a disagreement with the victim had escalated and became personal, after which his client lost his temper and stuck the victim to the face.

Mr Senia said the second assault happened while Keane and teammates were celebrating a grand final win and Keane claimed the victim made derogatory comments about his mother which led to his over-the-top reaction.

He said Keane no longer drank alcohol, had an eight-week-old baby and was petrified of going to jail.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said Keane, “a proven thug”, had added to the community’s feeling of fear in the streets.

He said Keane had hunted down one of his victims with another man he declined to name.

The magistrate said the victims would be scarred for years.

Mr Mellas said the common factor in Keane’s offending was alcohol and arguing with people and if that continued the defendant was destined to spend time in jail.

The magistrate placed Keane on a 12-month community corrections order which will involve alcohol and anger management programs.

He will return to court on March 24 for judicial monitoring and his sentencing will be finalised. 

Keane was also banned from attending licensed premises in central Warrnambool for the next 12 months between 10pm and 6am.

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