Celebrity bodyguard ‘pushed thumb’ into partner’s eye

AN ELITE bodyguard and taekwondo grand master who worked for tennis superstars including Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic has faced court for assaulting a woman.

Michael John Fenner, 61, of Upper Coomera had been in a relationship with a 34-year-old woman when an argument erupted on January 22, 2017.

Fenner shoved the woman from behind and she "blacked out", before waking some time later and struggling to move, Southport District Court was told.

Michael John Fenner, 61, of Upper Coomera faced Southport District Court on Thursday.
Michael John Fenner, 61, of Upper Coomera faced Southport District Court on Thursday.

It became apparent in the following days that Fenner's shove caused a latent spinal injury to surface, in what Crown prosecutor Gary Churchill described as "quite an unusual set of circumstances".

However, Fenner offended against the woman twice more while she was recovering.

He backhanded the woman on one occasion, leaving her nursing a black eye, Mr Churchill said.

Another incident involved Fenner pushing his thumb into the corner of the woman's eye.

Mr Churchill said Fenner's offending was "towards the lower end" of objective seriousness, but demonstrated a "degree of callousness".

Fenner's dated criminal record includes 12 counts of break and enter, but no prior incidences of violence.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm (listed as domestic violence offences) on Monday, before he was sentenced in the court on Thursday.

As was Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
As was Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Defence barrister Nicholas McGhee handed up a stack of character references vouching for Fenner, who he said was a taekwondo black belt and "grandmaster".

Mr McGhee told the court Fenner was considered one of the top three taekwondo instructors in the world and that he runs a "personal protection academy".

Fenner has worked as a bodyguard for "TV personalities" and "international stars" and provided training to Australian and international military personnel.

Mr McGhee said Fenner has also worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

He said Fenner was remorseful and did not initially know about the victim's pre-existing spinal condition.

Mr McGhee argued Fenner's offending was "entirely out of character" and Judge David Kent should not record convictions.

He said convictions could lead to problems obtaining contracts and hurt Fenner's chance of international work in future.

The case was adjourned for Mr Kent to consider his decision.