'I shouldn’t have done that’: soldier jailed over ‘king hit’
A soldier who "king hit" his "belligerent" mate in the face during a promotional course in Melbourne has been sent to military prison to give him "a little bit of time to further reflect on your behaviour".
Signaller Jarrod Lee O'Brien, 26, faced the Defence Force Magistrates Court in Canberra by video link from Townsville on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
O'Brien, originally from Bendigo, joined the army in 2018 after nine years stacking shelves at Woolworths.
The court heard O'Brien and his victim, Signaller Anthony Wilson were at a boozy "social event" at the Mactier Club at Simpson Barracks during a course in February when O'Brien and a group of other young soldiers went to confront Signaller Wilson, who had earlier threatened to "bottle" one of them.
When the group caught up with Signaller Wilson, O'Brien said: "Who are you going to bottle, c**t?"
Defence Force Magistrate Brigadier Michael Cowen QC said O'Brien inflamed the situation.
"To call him (a c**t) in that manner was clearly not going to de-escalate the situation," Brigadier Cowen said.
"It was ill-advised and in fact caused the next part of the escalation, to violence."
According to a statement of agreed facts, Signaller Wilson said he would "bottle" O'Brien, and shoved him in the chest.
O'Brien, who had drunk at least 7 beers to Wilson's 10, then landed a jab on Signaller Wilson's face, leaving him with a cut jaw and broken teeth.
Immediately afterwards, O'Brien said: "of f**k, I shouldn't have done that" and was later booted out of the course.
O'Brien's lawyer unsuccessfully argued his client was trying to stand up for younger soldiers, and that he should be fined and reprimanded.
Brigadier Cowen said O'Brien had to serve time in military detention to send a message to other would-be street brawlers in the military, and to give O'Brien "a little bit of time to further reflect on your behaviour".
"We can't have (defence force) members assaulting each other, let alone causing harm," he said. "The message needs to be sent to other people, that you can't behave in this manner."
Brigadier Cowen said O'Brien "appears to have a future in the defence force" but said soldiers needed to show they could use violence in a controlled way.
Brigadier Cowen sentenced O'Brien to 40 days detention, to be suspended after two weeks served.
A Warrant Officer on Tuesday afternoon carted O'Brien off to Lavarack Barracks detention centre.
Originally published as 'Oh f**k, I shouldn't have done that': soldier jailed over 'king hit'