By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A nightclub bouncer has been spared jail after knocking out a drunken patron who was being restrained on the ground.
Nikos Karagiannis, now 49, “unnecessarily” left his post to join in the assault after two other crowd-controllers threw the victim to the ground in front of the Southbank venue about 3am on 5 November 2018.
He kneed the “relatively defenceless” victim to the face as his colleagues held the victim down on his back, Victorian County Court judge Paul Lacava said on 20 November.
The first blow rendered the male unconscious, Judge Lacava stated.
Then a few seconds later, Karagiannis kneed the victim’s face again.
“You had no need to involve yourself. You left your post at the nightclub and deliberately inserted yourself in an assault on the victim.
“The victim was alcohol affected and relatively defenceless when you twice kneed him in the face in what can only be described as an unprovoked and cowardly assault.”
After inflicting the blows, Karagiannis returned to his post and wiped the victim’s blood from his trousers.
The unconscious victim’s injuries were life-threatening, including profuse bleeding from a cut artery in his tongue.
Due to the risk of bleeding and swelling in the airway, he was intubated in The Alfred hospital.
He was put in an induced coma to prevent death.
The victim later developed aspirational pneumonia, a type of lung infection due to swallowing blood.
Karagiannis pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury – a charge that was confined to the victim’s broken nose and a concussion that lingered for nearly two weeks.
The prosecution couldn’t prove Karagiannis was responsible for the tongue injury and complications, due to other bouncers assaulting the victim without Karagiannis’s involvement.
“Had the prosecution been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt all of the injuries and complications were caused by your actions, I would have sent you to jail,” Judge Lacava said.
Judge Lacava said he empathised with the “profoundly” impacted victim, who stated his concern that his full range of injuries couldn’t be taken into account.
The judge noted Karagiannis’s unblemished, hard-working record as a security guard over several decades. Colleagues and referees had stated the assault was out of character.
Karagiannis lost his job as a result of the incident. He then set up a home-based auto-tint business that had suffered due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Judge Lacava said the defendant had no prior convictions, pleaded guilty at an early stage, and showed remorse and regret.
He had “good” rehabilitation prospects and was unlikely to offend like this again.
A psychiatrist submitted that Karagiannis’s “acute stress reaction” led to him overreacting in such a violent manner. Judge Lacava dismissed this as “speculation”.
He accepted the dependent suffered depression and anxiety from time to time.
Karagiannis was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year supervised community correction order, including 150 hours of unpaid work and mental health treatment.