By James Atkinson

A convicted murderer who was on parole when he glassed a security guard at a Melbourne bar has avoided prison.

Jeffrey Alan Thomas served 21 years in prison for the 1988 murder of a fellow nightclub patron, who he killed by repeatedly dropping a large rock on his head at the climax of a scuffle that occurred upon leaving the venue.

Thomas was on parole in November 2010 when he became involved in a fight while drinking at the Cubby House Lounge Bar in Moonee Ponds in Melbourne's north west. Security camera footage showed that Thomas was initially the victim in the incident. Following a verbal altercation, he was set upon by a group of up to eight men who punched and kicked him while he was on the ground.

When security intervened to protect him, Thomas, who has poor eyesight and had lost his glasses in the melee, attacked one of the security guards, first punching him in the head before repeatedly striking him in the head with a glass he had subsequently picked up off the bar.

As a result of the assault the security guard sustained several deep lacerations to his head. He received stitches and was discharged from hospital later that evening.

The County Court of Victoria sentenced Thomas on March 26 this year. Judge Marilyn Harbison had heard evidence that Thomas had made strong progress in his rehabilitation in his latter years in prison and upon re-entering the community.

"It is a personal disaster for you that you now fall to be sentenced again," Judge Harbison said.

"Should you be sentenced to prison for this offence today, then a great deal of the work which you have done in obtaining employment and in obtaining stable accommodation and social supports will be destroyed."

Courts concerned by glassing incidents

But Judge Harbison acknowledged that Thomas committed the offence while on parole, and she said the courts had become increasingly concerned about such violent incidents on licensed premises. 

"It's an offence commonly known as 'glassing'. There are very substantial policy reasons why a custodial sentence should be imposed for such an offence," she said.

The prosecutor submitted to Judge Harbison that the protection of the community was paramount in sentencing Thomas, and that nothing other than a sentence of actual imprisonment was appropriate.

"She pointed out that your previous offence of murder occurred in similar circumstances in that it commenced in a nightclub when you had been drinking and was also fuelled by alcohol," Judge Harbison said. 

"Further, your 1994 offence [in prison] was also an offence of violence." 

But Judge Harbison nonetheless ruled that the three-year prison sentence she imposed on Thomas should be fully suspended.

"In my view, it is in the community's interests that you continue with your rehabilitation and this rehabilitation would be completely interrupted if I was to sentence you to a period of actual imprisonment today," she said.

"This offending for which I am to sentence you appears to be the only backward step that you have taken since you were released from prison five years ago."

She told Thomas that if he committed another offence punishable by imprisonment in any jurisdiction he would "almost certainly" be made to serve the sentence.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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  1. Hello Judge!!! How about banning him from pubs as a new condition of his parole. End of public menace.

  2. Another example of courts going soft on alcohol fuelled violence. No doubt the venue had extra conditions imposed on their license. Personal responsibility is clearly out the window.

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