Guilty bar brawler loses attempt to sue over arrest

A MAN arrested for about three hours after being king hit, kicked and glassed in a brawl at a Clarence Valley pub has failed in a bid to sue the State of NSW for damages.

Senior Constable Peter Barnier arrived to a bloody scene in the carpark of the Coutts Crossing Tavern on Anzac Day in 2011 after receiving a priority call to attend a violent brawl.

NSW District Court Judge Robert Montgomery said Snr Const Barnier, noting the blood and talking to witnesses, understood Seelands man Peter Michael Travers had challenged a man to a fight, walked outside the pub and was "king hit”.

A woman kicked Mr Travers while he was on the ground and the other man grabbed a thick 200ml beer glass and smashed it over his head, the court heard.

Ten or more people were involved in the melee, with several attempting to restrain Mr Travers as he continued to struggle despite "having the worst” of the fight.

Mr Travers, bleeding heavily from his head, continued to struggle in an effort to continue the fight as he was placed in a car bound for hospital, the court heard.

Police said publican Kim Watson told them she had earlier refused Mr Travers service because he was drunk and offered to drive him home in the tavern's bus, but he refused.

Mr Travers's girlfriend was also unable to get him to leave, Ms Watson said.

She told police the second man had thrown the first punch before the two traded blows, with Mr Travers coming off second best, falling to the ground and sustaining multiple kicks to his head.

Snr Const Barnier told the court Ms Watson and her husband Brett Watson feared reprisal from Mr Travers, with Ms Watson suggesting they sell the hotel and move back to Queensland with their children.

"He recalled that Kim Watson stated that the brawl was the most violent thing she had ever seen,” Judge Montgomery said.

Mr Travers voluntarily attended the Grafton police station on April 25 but there was no time to take a statement, the court heard.

He was contacted again the next day and asked to make a statement.

Snr Const Barnier said he deliberately did not tell Mr Travers he expected upon his arrival to charge him with affray, a serious offence with a 10-year maximum sentence, so he would co-operate and attend the station.

He was held for three hours and nine minutes and released before being charged with serious affray, a charge he later pleaded guilty to.

Despite his guilty plea, Mr Travers argued the arrest was unlawful because he was not arrested "for the purpose of taking proceedings”, in that he was led to believe he was there to give a statement, not be arrested.

Judge Montgomery found the arrest was lawful and "any indignity and distress or humiliation” Mr Travers suffered must be considered in the light of him "having willingly committed that offence in public view of the well-populated hotel precincts” and the fact he pleaded guilty to affray.

"The evidence of loudly arguing at the tavern and of the affray is also not suggestive of his maintaining a lifestyle in the public arena of good reputation...” Judge Montgomery found.

"That he had previously come to the notice of the police on counts of (prescribed concentration of alcohol), drive whilst disqualified and a charge of deception is also not inconsistent with that picture.”

Judge Montgomery dismissed Mr Travers's claim and ordered him to pay the State of NSW's costs.


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