Police visited an Imbil man's home after he struck his 70-year-old nudist neighbour on the head in a heated public dispute in January.
Police visited an Imbil man's home after he struck his 70-year-old nudist neighbour on the head in a heated public dispute in January.

Man assaults nudist neighbour in Gympie region

AN IMBIL man's anger issues got the better of him when he struck his 70-year-old nudist neighbour on the head after calling him a paedophile and a drug dealer, Gympie Magistrates Court has heard.

Matt Cameron Harthill, 47, pleaded guilty yesterday morning to common assault and public nuisance on January 5.

Police prosecutor Lisa Manns told the court bad blood between the neighbours began to boil over as far back as October last year when Harthill observed the complainant naked in the latter's backyard, who later told police he was unaware of his visibility.

The complainant claimed he had heard a male voice yell "dirty b******" while he was in the yard, and decided to build a metal fence to prevent further visibility or offending anyone.

The complainant then reported "a number of incidents" in which Harthill called him a paedophile and accused him of selling drugs to children while outside his address, as well as an "unknown person" shining a torch in his home at night.

The pair then had an argument on January 5, during which Harthill yelled "paedophile" multiple times towards the complainant while the latter was working out the front of his property across the road with a witness.

The complainant approached Harthill and asked "are you talking to me", after which Harthill allegedly made threats and said he would go to the police.

Instead Harthill went to the Imbil friendly grocer to buy fuel for his mower but he was followed by the complainant, who got out of his car, approached Harthill, and filmed him on his mobile phone.

Harthill walked towards his neighbour, called him a paedophile again, and said "get away from me or you're going to get hurt".

Harthill then "pushed" his neighbour to the left side of the head before going on to repeat similar, expletive-laden threats which attracted the attention of onlookers.

Harthill's solicitor told the court his client had gone to the petrol station to "cool off" from the earlier argument and had not intended to escalate the confrontation.

Harthill had since moved away from his neighbour.

The solicitor said Harthill was "very uncomfortable" being filmed but took full responsibility for the assault, accepting it was "not the action of a reasonable person" to push him in the neck.

He said his client was aware his anger had been an issue in the past and had taken measures to contain it.

Magistrate Chris Callaghan noted Harthill had not fronted court since another common assault charge in 2004, but stressed he needed to be deterred and keep control of his anger.

"Just because someone goes naked somewhere doesn't mean you can say they're a paedophile or that they're a drug dealer," Mr Callaghan said.

Mr Callaghan fined Harthill a total of $400 for both offences, and no conviction was recorded. He was ordered not to go within 50m of his address for two years.