Jail likely for man who used `coward's punch'

A MAN who used a "coward's punch" to hit a man in the face in a violent attack in Launceston is likely to face jail when he is sentenced.

Dion Francis Saunders, 21, pleaded guilty in the Launceston Magistrate's Court yesterday to one count of common assault and one count of having committed a nuisance.

Police prosecutor Brett Steele told the court that Saunders' offending had likely breached a four- month suspended sentence.

Court security officers immediately took Saunders into custody after his appearance.

Magistrate Reg Marron will sentence Saunders on Monday at 11.30am.

Mr Steele earlier told the court that Saunders was among a group of men in the Quadrant Mall about 12.30am on September 22, when another group of men passed them.

The two groups brushed shoulders with one another, leading to a short verbal exchange.

The groups separated, then one man returned to shake hands with a member from Saunders' group.

Saunders approached the complainant and threw a single punch with his right fist, hitting the man in the face. The man retreated and reported the matter to police.

He suffered a swollen cut lip and spent $1250 on dental work to repair his teeth.

The complainant's mother wrote a letter to the court, outlining her concerns with high-profile "one- punch" assaults, now called "the coward's punch", in the media.

Police showed Saunders CCTV footage of his attack on the man, but while Saunders identified himself, he said he could not remember anything because he had been drinking heavily.

Mr Steele also told the court about the time Saunders urinated in the doorway of the old Chicken Feed store in Charles Street, on the night of September 7, telling police to "f--- off" and continuing to urinate when officers saw him.

Saunders' defence solicitor told the court her client was the provider for his family and his partner was seven weeks' pregnant with their first child.

She said Saunders had an "intense need to relieve himself" when he urinated in the street, having been drinking heavily, and also recognised his problem with alcohol-fuelled violence.