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Bar goes into lockdown after man goes berserk in pub rampage

A man must undergo sixty hours of unpaid community service and was placed on a lengthy probation order after he and his uncle caused a scene at a southwest pub, forcing bar staff and patrons to go into lockdown, fearing for their safety.

Joshua Robert McHugh, 33, has been before the court numerous times for committing public nuisance type offences and the court heard on November 3 last year, he and his uncle engaged in a serious, ugly physical altercation with a patron at a pub near Charleville  

On Wednesday, April 7, The Charleville Magistrates Court heard the defendant had about six shots of tequila and a couple of beers before elbowing another man in the head because he made a comment towards him over a game of pool.

Solicitor Laurie Parker said his client had just moved to a new small town and felt out of place when the man said something to him.

McHugh and his uncle were removed from the premises and bar staff locked the doors, fearing for their safety, police prosecutor sergeant Barry Stevens told the court.

"The uncle became agitated outside and knocked on the doors and walls, then the defendant and co-accused forced entry through the door and were looking around the pub as though they were looking for someone," sergeant Stevens said.

"They walked into the restaurant and were unable to find anyone. Hotel staff locked everyone down in the bottle shop and bar, the defendant grabbed the phone and the co-accused broke an internal door and phone and continued to search the hotel before leaving.

"Police were called and they spoke to witnesses and a short time later, officers located both men in a nearby area.

"They were spoken to briefly and reviewed CCTV footage the next day. Police spoke to the defendant on November 4, 2020 and he said someone must have spiked his drink because he doesn't remember entering the hotel, whereas the co-defendant made full admissions to the incident."

The prosecutor noted community service was mandatory for this offence, but due to the "unsavoury matter" and people being concerned for their safety and locking themselves in a room, a probation order would be appropriate.

Mr Parker also submitted his client to be given a probation order, saying McHugh must turn his life around.

Magistrate Peter Saggers told the court the uncle fronted the Rockhampton Magistrates Court in December last year and was given a 12-month probation order and had to pay over $1000 in restitution.

The Magistrate told McHugh that the circumstances could have been a lot worse.

"You hit a man with your elbow, that can go so much worse, you're fortunate it's only common assault, it can be as bad as them falling backwards and hitting their head and never regaining consciousness," he said.

"It was a serious incident, the publican had to close the hotel.

"Did it really matter that he looked at you and said something - you're now in court, you must wonder whether it was worth it.

"You have come before the court for this type of offending for several years and the sentences have been as high as imprisonment … you have a bad history and you're putting yourself at risk of going into custody."

McHugh pleaded guilty to common assault in a public place while adversely affected by intoxicating substance and enter premises and commit indictable offence.

He was ordered to undergo 60 hours of community service and given a 15-month probation order, with drink and drug programs attached to the order.

Convictions were recorded.