Man avoids conviction for groping two women at a central Bendigo venue

A MAN who groped a staff member and another woman at a Bendigo venue and attempted to bite a security guard on the finger has been ordered to donate $2000 to the Salvation Army, but avoided conviction.

The 55-year-old Bendigo man pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday to six charges including behaving in an indecent manner in a public place.

He arrived at the Gold Dust Lounge at the bottom of the Shamrock Hotel at 12.20am on September 10 last year with a group of friends.

A female staff member had just finished cleaning up broken glass when the man bumped into her, then “groped and clenched the middle of the victim’s buttock”.

He then turned around to a group and laughed, while the victim informed security. CCTV shows the man slapping a second woman on the buttocks.

Security was required to use force to remove the man from the venue. Once outside, he continued to try to get back in while shouting “you don’t know who I am” and “I’ll put you out of a job and you will be on Centrelink”.

He ran at security guards, pushing one and attempting to bite his finger. He also hid among nearby cars and shouted at passers-by.

Police arrived shortly after and found the man in Bull Street. He was taken into custody and kept in the cells for four hours before being interviewed and released on summons.

The court heard the man had been drinking all day and night at football finals in Bendigo, and claimed he had no recollection of the incidents.

Defence counsel Russell Kelly said the footage was “embarrassing” for the man and it was “not surprising” he had forgotten the night given his intoxication.

“One could ask how he actually got into the premises without being told, ‘no, I’m sorry fella, you’re not coming in’,” he said.

“He did discuss with me the writing of a letter of apology to the [first] complainant.

“The second one, where he touched another female, that was more a slap on the backside as she walked by. It was just a continuation of similar sort of behaviour, nothing more than that.”

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Sally Mannell said the woman was just “going about her job” and should not be subjected to this sort of behaviour.

Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said the “excessive consumption of alcohol” was the cause of the offending.

“As the prosecutor has rightly pointed out, the staff at these venues are entitled to go about their work without being harassed by patrons,” he said.

“There’s a voluntary state of intoxication, and at your age, one would have thought you would have known better.”

Mr Klestadt said the man was entitled to a sentencing discount because of his lack of prior offending and guilty plea.

The man avoided conviction and was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond. He was ordered to pay $2000 to the Salvation Army.