Violence caught on camera

A WARRNAMBOOL magistrate has once again lashed out at the culture of violence that pervades the city's nightclub precinct.

Jonathan Klestadt made the remarks while sentencing Timothy John Treloar for a vicious assault on off-duty police officer Damian Coutts.

Mr Klestadt said it seemed that there were people who thought a fight at the end of a night of drinking was an appropriate way to cap off an outing, but such violence only led to injuries and the degradation of others.

Mr Klestadt said the violence along Timor Street was unacceptable and he had tried to make that clear to the community through his sentencing.

The comments come as the debate about whether Warrnambool should have CCTV cameras is once again on the agenda at the council.

Images given to The Standard by police and published today show the incident. The film also helped police in their investigation.

"These sort of incidents will not be regarded as anything other than extremely serious ," Mr Klestadt said.

"Detective Coutts suffered a significant injury and likely permanent disability. This type of behaviour must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Not only is it illegal but damaging to the whole fabric of our community."

Mr Klestadt said if Treloar did not have prior convictions for violence he may have avoided going to jail.

The magistrate said the fact that Detective Senior Constable Coutts acted as a peacemaker or good Samaritan was an aggravating circumstance.

Treloar was clearly unhappy with the sentence and made an outburst while he was led away from court into custody by three police officers.

Mr Klestadt said the policeman victim had, because of his training and oath to protect the community, stepped in to assist the security guards and ensure no one was injured in the malee.

Mr Klestadt said that in his alcohol-fuelled state of confusion Treloar felt obliged to assist his friend after completely misreading the situation.

He said Treloar had without warning struck the policeman, breaking his jaw and rendering him unconscious for a number of minutes.

"He was blind-sided," Mr Klestadt.

"He did not see you approach and had no opportunity to defend himself," the magistrate said.

Whalers Hotel publican Matthew Stewart said that incidents such as what occurred on July 22 would never be tolerated at the venue and he pledged to continue providing all possible assistance to police.

"We want to make our venue a nice safe environment for everyone to enjoy themselves," Mr Stewart said.

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