Anthony Fowler (right) has been jailed for assault.
Anthony Fowler (right) has been jailed for assault. Claudia Baxter

Chook Fowler jailed for punch during melee at hotel

A WELL-KNOWN former Ipswich rugby league player and part-time boxer will spend two months in jail after admitting to assaulting a pub patron.

Anthony Stuart Fowler, 40, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm before his sentencing in Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday.

The court heard Fowler, who is also known by the nickname, Chook, was working as a bar manager at the Cecil Hotel, Goodna on January 30 last year, when he was called upon to help break up a brawl about 11.30pm.

Although not employed as a security guard, Fowler forcibly removed one man - the son of the complainant - from the melee.

Magistrate Deborah Vasta, who viewed CCTV footage of the incident, noted that Fowler hit the younger man, but that this particular action was not the subject of any of the allegations.

"Some 12 seconds later, the CCTV footage shows the complainant approach you. He places his hand on your chest and you lean forward as if to listen to what he is saying," Ms Vasta said in her sentencing remarks.

Fowler then grabbed the complainant - a 51-year-old man - by the chest and struck him in the face.

The court heard the man sustained two cuts - one about 3cm to the top of his head and one about 5cm to his eyebrow - both of which were later surgically glued shut.

Defence lawyer Campbell MacCallum told the court that the complainant made a verbal threat against Fowler and his family, effectively provoking him.

Ms Vasta rejected the claim, saying that Fowler overreacted.

"I would not consider it to be provocative - having worked in the industry for some time you should be well aware of the stupid things people utter," she said.

In sentencing, the Magistrate had to take into account Fowler's criminal history, which includes two prior convictions for assault occasioning bodily harm, in addition to a common assault charge.

Ms Vasta said she also considered Fowler's previous volunteer and charity work - in addition to the fact that he worked as a firefighter for a significant period of time.

She added, however, that she found it disturbing that the defendant would respond to a perceived threat in such a violent manner, and that the sentence had to provide some degree of deterrence.

Fowler was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for a period of two years after he serves two months behind bars.

He was ordered to pay $500 compensation to the victim.

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