Drinking for seven hours before fight

TRUCK driver Paul Lawler had been drinking for more than seven hours at an Albury hotel when he started fighting another man in front of police, a court heard yesterday.

Police were called to the Astor Hotel about 7.20pm on Australia Day over an assault and were investigating.

There were about 100 people at the hotel when Lawler and another man started fighting in the beer garden with no security officers on duty.

Police ran to where the fight was happening and shouted at the pair to stop.

The other man had fallen to the ground and police saw Lawler throw several punches to his head.

Lawler stopped when directed, but the other man pulled him to the ground and started throwing punches.

Police attempted to separate them and were about to use capsicum spray when another person knocked it from the officer’s hand.

A stun gun was used on the other man which proved ineffective and the officer followed up with a drive stun to his back.

An ambulance came to the hotel, but Lawler declined treatment for his injuries.

Lawler, 49, of David Street, Albury, pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court to an affray charge.

After reading the police facts, magistrate Tony Murray said to him: “Why would you be so stupid to start a fight when the police were there?”

Solicitor Allison Bruce said Lawler arrived at the hotel about midday and was drinking with the other man for some time.

“They had a verbal argument which turned physical,” Ms Bruce said.

She said when police told them to stop fighting Lawler had complied, but the other man kept going.

There had been only 10 to 15 patrons in the beer garden at the time.

Mr Murray said there appeared to be breaches of the Liquor Act in what happened with no security present.

“There is no dispute there were evidently 100 people there at the time,” Mr Murray said.

Mr Murray said licensees had a strict liability to ensure patrons were not adversely affected by alcohol.

Lawler was convicted and put on an 18-month bond along with a $700 fine.