One-punch victim's family speaks out
TOM Freshwater spent more time in hospital recovering from severe brain and facial injuries than his one-punch attacker did behind bars.
The 23-year-old sportsman's frustrated family has now spoken out about the 18 month suspended sentence handed down to Jamie Lee Warner in Hervey Bay District Court last Thursday.
Warner, 19, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm before walking free.
The court heard Warner was fuelled by a carton of premixed rum and a bottle of Jagermeister, when he approached Mr Freshwater and delivered a massive blow to the back of the head in the early hours of October 14 last year.
Mr Freshwater was trying to break up a fight before he was attacked from behind.
In a statement exclusively released to the Chronicle, the Freshwater family questioned the severity of the sentence for the teenager who put their son in a neurological ward for two weeks.
"An unprovoked attack - a coward punch to the back of the head, multiple fractures to the skull and eye socket, bleeding on the brain and behind the eye, hearing loss and psychological damage," the statement read.
"The consequence - an 18-month sentence with immediate parole - not a day served, other than two days in a watch- house during the weekend of the attack!"
"We also had faith in the legal system and believed that justice would prevail.
"Can this sentence be seriously seen as justice?"
Mr Freshwater had to be airlifted to Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital where he began a long recovery.
The Freshwater family questioned why Warner's sentence did not reflect the grief he had cause.
"Who actually received a sentence here? The victim or the offender? Two weeks in a neurological ward, two months off work and months of recovering psychologically - it's clearly the victim!" the statement read.
"During this ordeal, our family chose not to focus on the offender and the possibility of sentencing.
"We knew where our energy was needed."
Judge Julie Ryrie said it was Warner's young age, prospect of rehabilitation, and demonstrated remorse which kept him from being sent to jail.
Warner had also breached a suspended jail sentence when he punched Mr Freshwater.
But the family said the reasoning for a more lenient sentence wasn't good enough.
"The offender claimed he was remorseful and said 'sorry,' - who to? An unconscious victim laying in a pool of blood?" the family's statement read.
"At the time of the attack, the public were calling for tougher sentencing for violence on our streets, politicians claiming this was a priority.
"Ten months on and it seems that our justice system is still letting our society down."
Defence barrister Victoria Trafford-Walker told the court last week Warner had no explanation for the attack and was "very sorry" for the grief and damage he had caused.