A TEACHER with stress-related problems ripped the head off an Easter Bunny mascot at Bunnings in Albury in March and told a gathering of parents and children he was not real, a court heard yesterday.
Children began crying after Darren John Harry said: “It’s not the real Easter Bunny. He’s a fraud. Bunnings is a fraud taking down local hardware stores just like Mitre 10.”
The person wearing a three-piece costume, including a helmet assembly with chin strap and large pink ears, had his head and neck jerked backwards when the bunny’s head was pulled by Harry and the chin strap broke.
Another employee asked several times for Harry to leave the store before being pushed in the chest with force.
He lost his balance, fell backwards into a child and then to the ground with everything captured on closed-circuit camera.
The incidents happened around 6.40pm on March 21.
Harry, 46, of Clem Drive, Lavington, appeared in Albury Local Court yesterday on charges of offensive behaviour, malicious damage and two counts of assault.
His solicitor Jason Hanke made an application for the offences to be discharged under the Mental Health Criminal Proceedings Act with Harry complying with a proposed treatment plan.
But police prosecutor Sgt Shannon Lewis opposed that happening.
Magistrate Tony Murray described Harry’s actions as unprovoked attacks on two people.
He said it was aggressive, totally unacceptable behaviour.
Mr Hanke said Harry was extremely stressed on the day with a disabled child missing from home.
He has a WorkCover claim pending and any conviction or finding of guilt would have a significant impact on his career, Mr Hanke said.
Mr Murray described Harry’s behaviour as bizarre in the extreme.
The first attack happened when the Easter Bunny was giving children high fives and posing for photographs.
“This has been a very difficult matter for the court to determine,” Mr Murray said.
He took into account the implications of a conviction on Harry and said it was inappropriate to finalise the case at present.
Mr Murray adjourned the charges until December 10 and said the application for them to be dealt with under the Mental Health Criminal Proceedings Act would be granted if Harry complied with his treatment plan in the interim.