Assault charge for Costo’s pub slap dubbed ‘overkill’
A MOUNT Julian man who slapped controversial former MP Jason Costigan and called him a "f***ing pedophile" following a spirited political debate at popular a pub had his charge downgraded.
Gordon Trevor Hopes was initially facing a common assault charge following the incident on September 18 this year at Hotel Metropole.
Proserpine Magistrates Court heard then incumbent Mr Costigan was dining at the venue about 7.15pm when Hopes approached and "engaged in a political conversation", which became heated.
As a result of Hopes' aggressive tone, the bar manager was called over and the 57 year old was told to move away from Mr Costigan.
Prosecutor Sergeant Emma Myors told the court Hopes finished his drink and as he was leaving the venue walked up behind Mr Costigan where he was eating at the bar.
"(Hopes) then used an open right hand to slap Mr Costigan on the lower right hand side of his back causing him to jump in shock," Sgt Myors said, adding Hopes "said words to the effect of see you later you f***ing pedophile".
On Monday the prosecution dismissed the common assault charge, replacing it with being a public nuisance inside a licensed venue, to which Hopes pleaded guilty.
Magistrate James Morton labelled the original charge "a bit of an overkill".
"If this was the case every person that had a drink in a public bar would be before the courts for common assault," Mr Morton said.
Defence solicitor Elizabeth Smith told the court her client had previously met and had discussions with Mr Costigan.
While at the bar with his son and a friend he spotted the former Whitsunday MP.
"They had a spirited discussion about politics," Ms Smith said.
"I'm instructed it was quite short. He, on his way out, slapped him on the back and said see ya later."
"See ya later pedophile … f***ing pedophile," Mr Morton added.
Ms Smith said Hopes, a disability pensioner, was not aware of any issue until the police turned up at his home the next day.
"You're 57 not 16, why use such a derogative term?" Mr Morton said to Hopes.
"Political chat at a bar over alcohol is going to have a bad outcome … there's no winners, everyone has a view."
While Mr Morton was addressing Hopes, the latter continued to interrupt.
"I can see why it's gone the way it did, because you're not even listening to what I'm saying … this is a court, shut up and be quiet, you understand?" Mr Morton said.
Hopes was fined $200 and a conviction was not recorded.
"If you see Mr Costigan out in the streets again, keep your hands to yourself and you mind your business unless you've got something nice to say," Mr Morton said.