High achieving lifesaver ‘shamed’ for throwing coleslaw
A "BOUNTY" had been placed on a top New Zealand lifesaver who threw a tub of KFC coleslaw that struck a father and daughter, the Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard today.
Lawyer Alicia Thomas said her client, Kane Jacob Sefton, had been the subject of attention in media and social media, to the point where a "bounty" had been circulated on Facebook.
Ms Thomas submitted that the "public shaming" be taken into account when sentencing Sefton to a charge of public nuisance and another of wilful damage over the April 24 incident, which occurred when the teenager was on the Sunshine Coast during the Australia Surf Life Saving championships.
The 17-year-old had originally been charged with two counts of assault but they were downgraded into the one public nuisance charge after discussions between police and his lawyer.
He remained in New Zealand during today's sentencing and listened by telephone, responding politely to the magistrate when requested.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Stephen Potter told the court a tub of coleslaw had been thrown from a vehicle on Alexandra Parade, striking a father and his four-year-old daughter while they were next to their car.
Sgt Potter said child had salad on her legs, arms, and torso and was visibly distressed when police arrived a few minutes later, and there was also salad over the car seat.
He said police checked with KFC and tracked the vehicle down to a Maroochydore address where they spoke to Sefton, who said he knew cars were parked along the road when he threw the salad but it had not occurred to him he might strike someone with it.
Ms Thomas said that while her client was a high achiever, he was still a teenager that had paid a high price for a spontaneous act.
"He was so upset about it that he wanted to apologise to the child in particular," she said.
But Ms Thomas said the situation had been complicated by factors including that "at one stage, a bounty had been placed on him on Facebook".
"He feels extremely badly about what happened," she said.
She said he had not been disciplined yet by his club or by Surf Life Saving Australia but had already faced consequences, such as losing a captaincy role.
Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist fined Sefton a total of $500 on both charges and ordered he pay $250 compensation and restitution.
He said took into account Sefton's previously clean record, that the behaviour had been "out of character" and the effect of public shaming.
"This would be something you wouldn't be repeating in the future," Mr Stjernqvist said.
DAD: FEEL SORRY FOR HER, NOT HIM
THE father of a little girl sprayed with coleslaw as she stood on the roadside at Alexandra Headland says she is the victim, not the teenager who threw it at her.
He did not have any sympathy for the young offender in light of a submission to the court that he had been publicly shamed and denied claims that a "bounty" had been placed on him.
"Not once has the offender reached out to our family to apologise," he wrote in the statement.
"His lawyer came out and said the public shaming he has had through social media has had a big impact on his life.
"He's not the victim, the poor little four-year-old girl who keeps bringing up the time someone 'threw all yucky stuff all over me' is the victim.
"The dad, who is now always conscious of where he parks the car and conscious of opening the door to let his children out, is the victim.
"Someone in the car even had the nerve to yell out and scream and celebrate as they had hit us.
"For him to not offer one apology to our family just shows how gutless he really is.
"The container exploded on impact. People in their house over 100 metres away came over saying it sounded like a beer bottle had exploded.
"Shards of plastic and coleslaw smashed all over my four-year-old daughter and myself. The container was almost unrecognisable.
"My wife thought we had been sideswiped by a car.
"And he is upset about a public shaming on social media?
"What if the initial impact hadn't hit the inside of our car door and sprayed all over us but had hit her in the head?
"Would he be worried about the shaming on social media then?"