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Man who attacked woman given community service after appealing fine

A young man who launched a violent and unprovoked attack on a woman was let off paying his fine because he is unemployed and lives with his grandparents.

Defence lawyer Craig Attridge told the Chief Justice during an appeal that David Brunson cannot afford the $1,500 penalty and it would be unfair for his grandmother to pay it from her pension.

Chief Justice Richard Ground upheld the appeal and said Brunson, 22, must complete 80 hours of community punishment instead.

The fine was originally meted out, along with a two-year probation order, by Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner after Brunson admitted assaulting Kamikko Ingham.

The magistrate heard the attack happened around 4am on August 26, 2011. Ms Ingham was outside Gravity nightclub on North Shore Road in Devonshire when she and two male friends got into a car driven by someone she didn’t know.

Her friends asked the car driver to take her to her home but during the journey she got into a quarrel with Brunson, another passenger in the car, who she did not know.

Brunson told her to get out of the car but she refused, causing him to slap her about the body, knocking her to the ground. He then proceeded to spit at her and punch her.

Meting out the fine, Mr Warner told him he must serve a month in jail if he did not pay. The maximum penalty the magistrate could have imposed was a year in jail.

Brunson, from Sandys, did not pay the fine and launched an appeal against the punishment.

Mr Attridge said Brunson lost his $18-per-hour job as a construction labourer around a year ago.

Brunson told the judge he has no income now, and is reduced to doing “hustles” and chores for his grandparents.

Mr Justice Ground noted: “On the night of the offence the evidence suggests that you were drunk.”

Brunson confirmed he was. When Mr Justice Ground inquired: “How did you get the money to buy the alcohol?” Brunson replied that he was bought drinks by friends.

According to Mr Attridge: “He is reliant on his grandmother and grandfather who are both pensioners as is his brother, who is also unemployed.”

He said Mr Warner should have taken account of whether Brunson had the ability to pay the fine before he imposed it, and pre-sentence reports indicated he did not.

Asking the Chief Justice to replace the fine with community service, Mr Attridge said: “Certainly that would be a way of making sure Brunson appreciated the situation without forcing any hardship on him or certainly his family. It really shouldn’t fall upon his grandparents, who are pensioners, to pay for the fine.”

Mr Justice Ground said the fine was an “inappropriate sentence” bearing in mind Brunson’s lack of income.

“It is wrong in principle to use a fine to extract money from a defendant’s parents and relatives. It should be the defendant himself who’s subject to the penalty,” he commented.

He said the 80 hours of community work Brunson must now do instead roughly equates to the amount he would have earned in two weeks at his former construction job.

“This was quite a serious assault on a young woman and the courts take a dim view of young men assaulting young women,” he added.

David Brunson Jr had his fine for beating a woman replaced by community punishment after a court heard he is unemployed, has no income, and lives with his grandmother. He is shown here in a picture from a social networking website.

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Published March 30, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 30, 2012 at 9:16 am)

Man who attacked woman given community service after appealing fine

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