Double punch penalty

PROSECUTORS want the maximum jail term doubled for a ``coward'' who launched an unprovoked attack on a man in Launceston just days after receiving a suspended prison sentence for the same thing.

Police prosecutor Brett Steele has also asked the court to ban Dion Francis Saunders, 21, from the Launceston nightclub district.

Saunders pleaded guilty to assaulting his victim by punching him to the head unexpectedly in the Quadrant Mall just after midnight on September 22.

The violence occurred after two groups of men, including Saunders, exchanged words in the mall. 

CCTV footage played to Launceston magistrate Reg Marron yesterday showed a man attempting to shake hands with a member of Saunders's group. 

Saunders walks up to man and suddenly hits him in the face with a clenched fist.

Mr Steele said the unexpectedness of the attack by an ``extremely muscled'' assailant on a slight victim was cowardly. 

The victim suffered a swollen cut lip and spent $1250 on dental work to repair his teeth, the court heard.

Mr Steele also lodged an application to breach a suspended sentence given to Saunders for two similar assaults.

The court heard Saunders punched a Queensland tourist in the face in the Commercial Hotel in December 2012.

``The force of that single punch caused the complainant to fall backwards and momentarily lose consciousness,'' Mr Steele said.

Saunders tried to continue the attack but was restrained by hotel security, he said.

Saunders told police that he'd wanted to hurt the man who he believed was looking up his girlfriend's skirt on the dancefloor or was friends with that person, the court heard. 

The assault left the man with a broken nose and a broken eye socket that required surgery, Mr Steele said.

Then in July police saw Saunders standing at the George Street taxi rank arguing with his girlfriend.

Saunders ``without warning'' has punched another man in the queue in the back of the neck after his girlfriend turned her back on him.

Saunders was sentenced to a four-month suspended jail term on September 17. Five days later he committed the attack now before the court.

The case is likely to continue debate surrounding suspended sentences after the Liberals promised to scrap them if elected in March.

The opposition believes they send a soft-on-crime message, which is denied by the government. 

Mr Steele highlighted another assault in September 2012 where Saunders punched a man in the face in Waverley leading to 98 hours of community service

Photos of the victim, who was missing some front teeth, were shown to Mr Marron. 

Looking at his supporters from the dock, Saunders mouthed the words ``I'm f----d''.

Mr Steele asked the maximum penalty for common assault be doubled from one to two years for this matter.

Citing Tasmanian academic Kate Warner, last month awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her work on sentencing, Mr Steele said the assault was aggravated because it was unprovoked, unexpected, random and in a public place.

Mr Steele asked that Saunders be barred from loitering in Launceston's night club district, the location of his past three assaults, between midnight and 5am. 

Lawyer Libby Tolputt opposed the maximum penalty increase, arguing no members of the public saw the assault and other aggravating factors were absent.

She said Saunders recognised he had issues with alcohol-fuelled violence and had been taking steps to address them.

Mr Marron remanded him in custody until March 24 and asked a pre-sentence report be prepared. 

Saunders' matter will be mentioned in court on March 3. 

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