‘This is a warning.’

A man beat a pharmacist in an unprovoked assault, claiming the practitioner had teased him by comparing him to a transgender celebrity

A man who had lived in Australia since he was five years old has lost his appeal to have his visa cancelled after he punched a pharmacist.

He asked to have the cancellation revoked, but this was denied, after which the man went to New Zealand and applied for a review of the decision.

A 2016 attack on his former regular pharmacist was highlighted in the hearing before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia. It was while he was imprisoned for charges relating to this attack that his visa was revoked.

Further offences noted in the hearing included high-range speeding, drink driving, unlicensed driving, having an unrestrained child in his vehicle, damaging and stealing property, possessing dangerous drugs (amphetamine), breach of bail, receiving stolen property, possessing and uttering counterfeit money, and violence towards his former partner.

In February 2018, the man was sentenced for assault occasioning bodily harm, to 12 months’ imprisonment, with a parole release date of 20 May 2018.

On 8 May 2018, not long before the man became eligible for parole, a delegate of the Minister cancelled his Class TY Subclass 444 Special Category (Temporary) visa, on the basis that the man did not pass the character test, and that he was serving a full-time custodial sentence.

On 29 September 2016, he had gone into the dispensary area of his former regular pharmacy, from which he had received methadone for some time before changing to a different store.

He spoke to the pharmacist, who stood up, and then according to the sentencing judge, “punched him without any warning, knocking him to the floor”.

“You then said, ‘This is a warning,’ and walked out,” the sentencing judge had noted.

The pharmacist was able to identify the offender, because up until a few months earlier, he had been providing methadone to the patient.

However, there had been some conflict between the pharmacist and the offender, the sentencing judge had noted.

This judge had highlighted the offender’s use of the words, “This is a warning,” saying it added serious aspects to the offending, in addition to the attack having been unprovoked and “entirely unjustified”.

The pharmacist’s injuries had included some small contusions and ulcers on his lips.

However the judge said it had represented a fairly serious example of assault occasioning bodily harm.

In asking for the cancellation of his visa to be revoked, the New Zealander argued that due to increasing levels of anxiety and depression, he had increased his use of methamphetamine at the time of the attack, and that during the attack he was under the influence of methadone.

He explained that he had stopped going to the pharmacy in question, despite attending it since 2012 for methadone, because the pharmacist had been teasing him, “calling me Caitlyn Jenner and stuff like that”.

Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic athlete and reality television star, made international headlines when she came out as a trans woman in 2015.

Later the man also said that he had changed pharmacies because he could access the methadone program through a more convenient premises.

After two months, the man said had gone back to the pharmacy to talk to the pharmacist about his behaviour, but the victim was busy.

He said that he heard the pharmacist say, “I’ll go outside and start him then,” at which point he “snapped” and asked again to see the victim. He said the victim made a “smart arsed” remark, and that he thought he was about to punch him, so he swung first.

The offender said that he was remorseful and aware that he had “stuffed up” and due to methamphetamine use and lack of sleep he was not “all there in the head at the time”.

At the March 2021 hearing, Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia member Rebecca Bellamy noted that she could not see a resemblance to Caitlyn Jenner, and pointed out that the offender had said the teasing about the celebrity had begun in 2013, despite the fact that Ms Jenner had not made her transgender status public until 2015.

After this was highlighted, the offender said that the pharmacist’s behaviour had also included “not giving me the right change” and “also just the way he goes about things just towards me”.

Ms Bellamy said she did not find the man’s claim plausible that the pharmacist had teased him by making references to Caitlyn Jenner.

She said she found the attack was unprovoked, and that she further noted the man’s “disingenuous attempt to somewhat justify or excuse his attack on the victim”.

In March 2018, the offender was also fined for assault or obstruct police officer, to which he pleaded guilty.

This occurred when police attended the scene of the assault on the pharmacist.

The Appeals Tribunal found that the man had obstructed police at that time.

It highlighted the man’s “long history of physical aggression,” some of which had been directed at police officers in the performance of their duty.

Ms Bellamy noted that the attack on the pharmacist had attracted a sentence of 12 months, to serve three, which was a “substantial” sentence, and stressed that the attack was unprovoked and unjustified.

She noted that the man had shown “very little insight into, or genuine remorse for, his behaviour” and said there was a real risk that he would continue to offend.

The Tribunal affirmed the decision to cancel the man’s visa.

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