Horror impact of thug’s ‘moment of madness’
A MAN who left a stranger unable to answer simple yes or no questions months after an unprovoked attack outside a Gold Coast hotel will be released from prison by August next year.
Amerika Robert Uili, 19, was sentenced in the Southport District Court today for one count of grievous bodily harm.
New Zealand born Uili hit keen fisherman Liam McNeilly, 34, in the head after leaving Sin City Nightclub in the early hours of June 27, the court was told.
The court was played CCTV footage showing the incident and Uili exchanging words with Mr McNeilly and his partner Justine Tominey near the Hilton Hotel.
Moments earlier Ms Tominey had intervened in an incident between Mr Uili and another man.
The footage showed Mr McNeilly was standing between Uili and Ms Tominey.
Uili charged and swung his arm in a coat hanger motion and hit Mr McNeilly in the head with his forearm, knocking him to the ground.
The court was told Uili, who lived in Victoria, was on the Gold Coast for a family holiday.
Uili's Australian visa has since been cancelled, the court was told.
Mr McNeilly and Ms Tominey had come to the Gold Coast for a fishing competition and were on the final day of their holiday.
Judge Katherine McGinness said the attack could be considered "gratuitous violence".
She sentenced Uili to five years prison to be suspended after he served six months.
Uili's Australian visa has since been cancelled and he will be deported to New Zealand.
Crown prosecutor Jessica Guy said moments before the attack Mr McNeilly was trying to defuse the situation and said to Uili: "You go that way and we'll go this way".
"The conduct (of Uili) can be described an alcohol fuelled violence in terms a single blow," Ms Guy said.
"The consequences of that blow will have a permanent and devastating impact on the complainant."
Ms Guy said Mr McNeilly was in hospital for months following the attack and required surgery to relieve pressure from bleeding on the brain.
She said on August 1 last year, Mr McNeilly "used intelligible words less than 50 per cent of time and was unable to answer yes or no to simple questions".
The fisherman has since returned to NSW and works part-time doing simple duties.
Ms Guy said he has a severe traumatic brain injury and the final outcome would not be known for two to three years.
"Mr McNeilly said to Ms Tomiley that he feels he has had a life sentence," she said.
The court was told Uili had written an apology to Mr McNeilly but the fisherman had declined to accept it.
Defence lawyer Dominic Brunello said Uili would be deported and unable to return to Australia once his prison sentence was completed.
"It will mean an ongoing and lifelong impact for him," he said.
Mr Brunello said Uili would be separated from his family, including his mother and father.
"A 19-year-old who has never done anything wrong before how had a moment of madness that is a very enduring impact for him," he said.
Uili has spent 174 days in pre-sentence custody.
A fundraising page for McMcNeilly, set up by Ms Tominey, has raised more than $20,000 to help with his recovery.