Coward punch: man jailed

A COHUNA man has been jailed for three months after he cowardly punched a man in an assault at a hotel. 

Magistrate John Bentley also banned William Swallow, 31, from entering licensed premises for two years and warned the defendant to turn his life around before he killed someone. 

The incident occurred at Shilipi's Cohuna Hotel on July 14, where Mr Swallow attacked another patron and unlawfully assaulted two staff members. 

Mr Bentley handed down the strongly worded sentence at Swan Hill Magistrates' Court after viewing video footage of the incident. 

Mr Swallow and his father were at the venue drinking whisky and coke for four hours prior to the fight and even interacted with the victim, engaging in a competitive pool game, the court heard. 

Things became heated when the losing party declined to provide the agreed upon slab of beer. 

According to the police prosecutor, the victim had been trying to placate Mr Swallow's father, when Mr Swallow ran from his position at a table, three metres away to the bar and punched the man.

Mr Swallow delivered what Mr Bentley referred to as a "coward's punch" from the victim's blind side, landing four additional punches and continuing his assault once the victim was on the ground. 

The man was taken to hospital with lacerations on his head. 

Mr Swallow alleged he had acted only in defence of his father, who he perceived to have been under threat. 

Mr Swallow's lawyer said he believed his client did "get up on the first limb of self-defence", but admitted he had acted with excessive force. 

Mr Bentley rejected the claim. 

"Firstly I have to say I am appalled; appalled by the video. At no stage do I accept that he has gone to the defence of his father, his father acted in a provocative matter, which could clearly been seen by him... and he has come in and hit him (the victim) in an excessive manner," he said. 

"I am going to ban him from pubs as well; the guy has clearly got a serious alcohol problem."

Mr Bentley said Mr Swallow needed to realise the potentially deadly outcome of his actions 

"There's been a lot of this one-punch injuries and I alone this year have had two cases where deaths have resulted from one punch," he said.

"If you are going to continue to do this, you are going to be up on a murder charge and you are not only going to destroy one person's life, you will destroy your own, because it's only a matter of time. 

"When you're laying punches like this you're going to get someone and they are going to die." 

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