Man jailed for punching neighbour in face over fence tap

AN EMERALD man has been jailed for punching his drunk neighbour in the face after a fence dispute.

Ashley Peter Cox, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday in Rockhampton District Court to one count of grievous bodily harm.

Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence said the victim had Cox over at his home during the day of January 24 and had a few drinks before they moved to Cox's place for a party that went into the early hours of January 25.

She said the neighbours had no disputes prior to this incident.

Ms Lawrence said the victim and another male were outside the pool room when the victim "tapped" the fence, which had dents in it.

She said Cox came out and told the victim "if you are going to hit a fence, hit that one" as he pointed towards the fence that divided their properties.

Ms Lawrence told the court Cox went back inside his house and the victim tapped the fence again.

The victim was facing the fence when Cox came back outside and swung a punch at his face as the victim turned.

The punch caused the victim to fall back into the fence, and drop to the ground unconscious for 30 seconds. He was bleeding from the nose and mouth.

The victim got up and went home. His wife took him to hospital where it was discovered he had multiple fractures to the left side of his face and was experiencing numbness in the left cheek.

The victim had surgery on February 6 and six plates were inserted into the left side of his face.

Ms Lawrence said the victim still suffers numbness, has difficulty breathing through his left nostril and has "changed the manner of how he grows his hair to hide the scars from surgery".

"He feels he will never be able to forget what happened to him," she said.

Defence barrister Maree Willey said Cox had been drinking heavily after the breakdown of a long-term relationship.

She said the victim had been making "a nuisance of himself" throughout the evening with his wife coming over to try and get him to go home about midnight and Cox asking him later to go home, but the victim refused.

Ms Willey said Cox made admissions straight away to the offending and had attended the police station three times to get the interview done but the officers said they were waiting for the post-operation report.

Cox was convicted of assault in March 2018 and was on bail for that charge when he punched his neighbour.

Judge Michael Burnett described the punch as entirely inappropriate and excessive.

He ordered Cox to a two-year prison term, declared 42 days pre-sentence custody, with parole release on August 7.