Celebrity chef faces common assault charges

A DRUNKEN confrontation with a security guard outside a licensed premises has landed celebrity chef Clayton Donovan with a conviction for common assault.

The 43-year-old, of Nambucca Heads, appeared in Grafton Local Court for sentencing over an incident in Sydney.

It was alleged Donovan tried to enter the Courthouse Hotel in Surry Hills about 10.30pm on August 23 and became agitated after he was refused entry by a security guard due to perceived intoxication.

When the guard gave him a 50m exclusion advice card and said 'you are not coming in', the chef allegedly responded with the words 'I'm coming in for a drink, I'll f****** knock you out'.

Police facts state Donovan then threw the advice card back at the guard, which hit him in the chest, and spat in his face.

Further words between the pair only ceased when the victim waved down a passing police car, resulting in Donovan's arrest.

In court yesterday, his solicitor Sally McPherson said that since Donovan closed his esteemed Jaaning Tree restaurant two years ago to pursue pop-up events and opportunities with the ABC, his environment had been fairly unstable.

She said Donovan spent most of his nights on the road, which he described as "an endless stream of late nights and mini-bar fridges".

Ms McPherson said the offence "shone the light on his alcohol misuse". She said he had not had any alcohol since the offence, and contacted Alcoholics Anonymous the day after it happened.

Four days before the incident he was also tested for diabetes, and later found out he had been diagnosed with a serious form of the disease.

Ms McPherson, who also described herself as a family friend, said Donovan was ashamed and embarrassed at what he did following an "unfortunate set of circumstances" and asked for leniency, especially considering the stress he was under, his work with a number of charities including AusHarvest and Variety Club and how much he had turned his life around since.

Magistrate Robyn Denes said she accepted the plea of guilty was an indication of Donovan's "very real, genuine remorse", but made a point that the court had to find a balance between leniency and the impact the offence had on the victim.

"Imagine that security guard... not knowing what was in that spit? He's just trying to make a living for his family too. People shouldn't have to be assaulted in the course of their employment."

Ms Denes said even good people who made really bad decisions needed to realise the consequences of their actions. "I am certain you are completely embarrassed by this and...you never expected yourself to be in this position," she said.

Donovan was convicted and fined $800 for assault.

He was also convicted for refusing to leave the premises but no additional penalty was recorded.



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