Man drags backpacker into alley

A MAN accused of grabbing a 20-year-old Swedish backpacker was yesterday sentenced to three months in prison.

Aaron James Kelly, 21, pleaded guilty to eight charges in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court, including assault, deprivation of liberty, a number of traffic offences and wilful damage of police property.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Jeanette Grigoris said CCTV footage from outside the Next Backpackers in Torquay showed Kelly grabbing the female tourist and dragging her towards a nearby alley in the middle of the night on April 14.

The following day, police arrested Kelly after a traffic incident in Urraween where he was driving a friend’s unregistered, uninsured car while he was drunk and unlicensed.

Snr Const Grigoris said Kelly was still wearing a distinctive pair of shorts that police recognised from the CCTV footage at the time of the traffic offences.

Kelly’s solicitor, Justin Geldard, told the court his client only grabbed the Swedish girl because he wanted to talk to her about an iPod he believed was stolen from him by one of the girl’s friends.

“He was intoxicated and believed she had some knowledge of it (the stolen iPod),” Mr Geldard said.

Magistrate Andrew Walker said the deprivation of liberty was “at the lower end of the scale of seriousness” as it was over in seconds, but said a term of imprisonment was needed to send a message to the public that “this sort of conduct would not be tolerated.”

Mr Walker accepted Kelly wanted to speak about his iPod, but told the defendant the normal course of behaviour when talking to someone did not involve grabbing them without their consent.

Mr Walker also said he did not understand Kelly’s charge of wilful damage of police property, which involved defacing the walls of the Hervey Bay watch-house.

Kelly received immediate parole for his prison sentence, due to spending 36 days in custody.

He was also fined $2360 and disqualified from holding a licence for seven months for his other offences.


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