DODGED JAIL: Billy Stefanuik played for the Hervey Bay Seagulls on the weekend.
DODGED JAIL: Billy Stefanuik played for the Hervey Bay Seagulls on the weekend. Brendan Bufi

Seagulls player guilty of coward punch at nightclub

A HERVEY Bay Seagulls player has been sentenced to nine months in jail, wholly suspended, for punching and kneeing a 35-year-old man during a fight at the Viper nightclub in Torquay.

Billy-James Stefanuik, 23 of Wondunna, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Hervey Bay District Court to assault occasioning bodily harm.

Prosecutor Chris Cook told the court the incident, which started with a small altercation at the bar on September 14 last year, resulted in the victim being left with multiple lacerations to the face and a broken jaw.

"It started with a coward punch and ended with a knee. That was a particularly gratuitous act," he said.

Defence barrister Patrick Wilson said the incident was extremely out-of-character for the apprentice painter and father and tendered 10 character references, including one from his employer, to the court.

Mr Wilson said Stefanuik was extremely remorseful for the act.

"It really seems to be a moment of madness by a man who has lived law abidingly," Mr Wilson said.

Judge Helen Bowskill said in her sentencing remarks, the victim impact statement was quite striking in how far-reaching the incident had been on the victim's life, not just due to the injuries.

"(The incident) affected his work. He doesn't play sport anymore. He doesn't feel comfortable watching his children play sport," she said.

Ms Bowskill sentenced Stefanuik to nine months in jail with the sentence wholly suspended for 18 months.



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