No jail for blackbelt after Deakin Avenue street fight

A TAEKWONDO blackbelt who rushed to help some friends in an alcohol-fuelled street fight on Deakin Avenue last year has been spared jail.

Branden Sandiman took two ecstasy tablets and had been drinking leading up to the assault in the early hours of August 5, which left a 36-year-old man with facial fractures and four broken ribs, the Mildura Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday.

Defence barrister Neil Howard asked Magistrate Andrew Capell not to imprison Sandiman, saying the 22-year-old wanted to restore his damaged reputation and had already sought treatment for his violent behaviour and drug use.

The court heard Sandiman and his friends became involved in a confrontation with the victim and his friends during a night out at Doms Nightclub.

An initial scuffle in the CBD was broken up by police but the two groups later clashed along Deakin Avenue, opposite Chaffey Secondary College, and the situation escalated after a group of people jumped out of a car and rushed toward the victim.

Prosecutor Sergeant Alexandra West said the victim threw punches until he was knocked to the ground from behind and then subjected to more attacks, including being jumped on, until he lost consciousness.

Mr Howard said Sandiman made a “fateful decision” to get involved in the fight when he saw the victim push aside a woman who had arrived at the scene in the passing car.

Sandiman told police after turning himself in that he had punched the victim once to the back of the head and told him to stay down.

The matter was booked in for a five-day contested hearing but Sandiman pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury and affray yesterday.

Mr Capell fined Sandiman $2000 and placed him on a two-year corrections order, requiring him to complete 200 hours’ unpaid community work and undergo treatment for drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

He said Sandiman would have been sentenced to six months’ jail had he not pleaded guilty to the charges.

Sandiman’s two co-accused had already been dealt with by the courts: Dylan Mitchell-Casey, 19, was placed on a 12-month corrections order and Glen Lawson, 20, served 116 days in custody before being ordered to complete 100 hours’ community work.

Mr Capell said a letter of apology Sandiman wrote to the victim showed he was genuinely remorseful.

“But I will say to you it wouldn’t mean much if that person had died,” Mr Capell said.

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