A man who "brutally" punched a "helpless" victim outside the Ararat Hotel, leaving them in a critical condition, has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Ricky Davis was "enraged" by the victim's behaviour at the pub on the night of December 21 last year, when he approached them outside and struck them to the side of the head, the County Court heard.
The victim lay "essentially helpless" on the ground outside, when Davis, an Ararat resident, stood over them and struck them again with a clenched fist.
As the victim attempted to sit up, Davis stepped forward and punched the victim again, forcing their head to whiplash back to the ground, Judge Michael Bourke said when sentencing the 25-year-old.
"(The victim) continued to try and hold his head out of the side garden. (Davis) took a couple of steps back and picked his hat up off the ground. He took a few steps back over to the victim and punched the victim with full force to the side of the face rendering them unconscious," Judge Bourke said.
"It is my assessment of the (CCTV) footage outside that the victim was not in a state to fight when you first struck them. It was clear that they were not and were effectively helpless when you struck them hard three more times as they lay on the ground.
"The film of what you did there cannot be described as anything other than sickening."
The court heard the victim was placed into an induced coma after the attack and airlifted to a Melbourne hospital in a critical but stable condition.
They were admitted to hospital with a mild traumatic brain injury and multiple facial fractures.
In their victim impact statement, they said they suffered ongoing muscle damage in their face from the incident and had lost a sense of safety and enjoyment from their life.
"Your intoxication offers no mitigation, particularly in the circumstances of a man who is seasoned to drink and has been violent when drinking before."- Judge Michael Bourke
Davis pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury at the County Court earlier this month.
The judge said Davis and victim knew of each other but did not have any grievances to air when they crossed paths at the pub that night.
The victim was celebrating his work Christmas function at the pub, where it's alleged he became increasingly intoxicated.
"Witnesses at the Ararat Hotel described the victim as loud and aggressive and seeming to want to fight," Judge Bourke said.
The court heard the victim was in a number of altercations inside the bar, none of which Davis was involved in.
Davis was not charged for any incidents that took place inside the bar.
Davis' defence lawyer submitted that his client was "enraged" by the victim's behaviour at the pub, a point that was supported by a forensic psychologist's assessment.
The judge accepted that there was evidence that showed the victim was intoxicated and misbehaving but explained it did not excuse Davis' actions.
"I find that plays little or rational or morally legitimate role here," Judge Bourke said.
"In my view (the victim) was no real threat and at least vulnerable when you first struck and really to the point helpless when you continued brutally punching them."
Davis had prior offences for recklessly causing injury.
The judge said there were similarities between the incidents - although the previous events were less severe - and they seemed to be have been caused by a grievance and occurred while Davis had been drinking.
"You had become by the time of this offence an extremely heavy beer drinker," Judge Bourke said.
"You regularly drank to the point of passing out and frequently suffered memory blackouts. Heavy drinking seems to have become an embedded part of your life.
"On the day of offending in the guise of a pre-Christmas function you had been drinking since 10am.
"Your intoxication offers no mitigation, particularly in the circumstances of a man - albeit still young - who is seasoned to drink and has been violent when drinking before."
The court heard Davis had sought psychological and substance counselling since the incident.
The judge took this into account, as well as Davis' "genuine remorse", early guilty plea and the extra burden of imprisonment in a COVID-19 environment, when handing down the five-and-a-half-year sentence, with a non-parole period of three years.
Had he not pleaded guilty, he faced up to seven-and-a-half years in custody.
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