Park ranger says he punched woman in a ‘moment of madness’
A SENIOR North Stradbroke Island ranger broke down in court yesterday after admitting to punching a woman while she sat in her car.
Daniel Wilhelmus Hendriks, 47, pleaded guilty to common assault when he appeared via telephone call at the Cleveland Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon.
The court heard Hendriks punched a 42-year-old woman through the window of her vehicle at 2.30pm on January 3 after she called him an arsehole during an argument over a traffic crash the parties were involved with a few weeks prior.
The woman tried but failed to evade the punch which landed on her cheek and nose.
The violent incident at the Dunwich ferry terminal was witnessed by the victim's mother who was waiting to board the Straddie Flyer.
Police prosecutor Katherine Steele said Hendriks reported to police at 5pm that day and initially claimed he "may have made contact" with the woman's face with an open hand.
Ms Steele said the defendant's behaviour was not proportionate to being called an arsehole and that he had initially not taken responsibility for his actions.
The prosecutor said his unacceptable behaviour against a defenceless woman could have had much more serious consequences.
"It is just lucky; one punch can kill and this could have gone very different for the defendant," Ms Steele said.
Defence solicitor Jason Todman said his client was an upstanding member of the North Stradbroke community, had an admirable work record and had acted out of character.
"Matters got out of hand and he behaved in an appalling manner," Mr Todd said.
"He did desist after one punch."
Mr Todd said Hendriks' only criminal history dated back 13 years when his client became violent towards a person who had allegedly sold drugs to a family member.
Multiple character references were supplied attesting to Hendriks' good character.
Mr Todd said the defendant had been particularly emotional on the day of the incident after visiting his gravely ill sisters and mother.
Magistrate Deborah Vasta said a jail term could not be considered as the punch "only grazed his victim".
Ms Vasta said Hendriks was the sort of person needed in the community and had been a wonderful role model in the past.
"You have compromised your reputation and potentially your employment," Ms Vasta said
"You have had a moment of madness but you should not be defined by a single act."
The magistrate praised Hendriks' admirable contribution to the North Stradbroke community and said the ranger would be humbled by having to do community service as penance for his actions.
Hendriks was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and placed on a two-year non-contact order which prohibits him from coming within 20 metres of his victim.
Hendriks agreed to write a letter of apology and was ordered to pay $500 in compensation for the "psychological" effect of his attack.
No conviction was recorded.
Originally published as Ranger punches woman driver in 'moment of madness'