'It is a coward's punch': Man avoids jail after drug and alcohol-fueled attack on Star Bar manager

Tom Costello, 19, was lining up to enter Star Bar when he punched the venue manager to the jaw. Picture: Adam Holmes
Tom Costello, 19, was lining up to enter Star Bar when he punched the venue manager to the jaw. Picture: Adam Holmes

A MAN who punched the manager of Star Bar unconscious after he was refused entry has avoided jail, despite already serving a community corrections order for trafficking ecstasy.

Tom Costello, 19, who has since relocated to Geelong, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to multiple charges.

Costello admitted he had earlier consumed “five or six lines” of ketamine at the Kangaroo Flat Hotel, where he had been drinking for eight hours on the afternoon and evening of February 25.

He also took one ecstasy tablet, was found in possession of another, and had 1.5 grams of cannabis down his sock.

The court heard Costello was in line at Star Bar about 11.45pm and attempted to gain entry using a birth certificate as ID. Security guards refused him entry.

Costello became aggressive towards security and the venue manager, who was talking to security at the time.

Costello punched the manager to the jaw causing him to fall to the ground and lose consciousness.

Costello then ran across McCrae Street and kicked a passing car, before he was wrestled to the ground by security.

He remained aggressive towards security and police, and was placed in a holding cell for the night.

The manager was taken to Bendigo Health for observation and had no recollection of the incident, and no visible injuries.

Costello was interviewed by police the next morning and said “I just ran at him and hit him”, that it was “one hit and he just dropped”, and that his foot was sore from kicking the car.

When asked how he felt about injuring the venue manager, Costello replied “f--- him”.

Costello described his state on the night as “f---ing gone, putrid”.

The court heard Costello was convicted and placed on a community corrections order in November, 2016 – three months before the Star Bar incident – for trafficking ecstasy.

He has since completed three months of residential rehabilitation to address his drug and alcohol issues, and relocated from Bendigo to Geelong to remove himself from bad influences.

Prosecutor Sergeant David Somerton said it was concerning that Costello had offended so soon after starting his community corrections order.

“He either didn’t take it seriously, or he wasn’t able to access those services,” he said.

“Whilst it was likely a face-to-face confrontation, it was totally unexpected by [the victim], he was not in a position to avoid the punch.

“It is a coward’s punch.”

Sergeant Somerton conceded that Costello’s rehabilitation meant a term in prison could be detrimental to his recovery.

Magistrate Michael King agreed, describing prison as a “retrograde step”.

“I think it could interfere with positive steps you have already taken to address your issues,” he said.

Costello was placed on a 15-month community corrections order with 160 hours of unpaid community work.