Centrelink manager spat on while trying to help angry customer | The Courier

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A police prosecutor has described a man’s decision to spit at a Ballarat Centrelink worker who was trying to help him as ‘despicable’. Redan resident Simon O’Neil became agitated when he had an issue with the self-service phone at the Centrelink office. A manager offered to help him but he became aggressive, got up from his chair and spat twice in their face. The victim ordered O’Neil to leave the building and he sat outside in his car. He initially denied spitting on anyone to the police. “When asked what the CCTV would show him doing, he said ‘they’re probably right, I don’t give a f**k’,” police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Steve Kent said. O’Neil pleaded guilty to two charges of unlawful assault at the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. Leading Senior Constable Kent said spitting should be viewed as at the high end of seriousness for any unlawful assault. “It is disgusting and frightening and causes people no end of anxiety,” he said. “It is absolutely unacceptable behaviour. The victim in this case is somebody who was trying to assist the accused and to be subjected to that sort of behaviour is very serious.” The second charge of unlawful assault relates to when O’Neil confronted his neighbour in February 2020 in an aggressive state, grabbed a metal pole and swung it at the victim, hitting his forearm. The victim received a cut and swelling to his upper forearm and called police. Defence lawyer James Gilfillan said O’Neil pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and was remorseful for his behaviour. He said O’Neil had long-term psychiatric issues, which made him an inappropriate vehicle for general deterrence in sentencing. Magistrate Letizia Torres said she took into account that the offending happened almost two years ago. O’Neil was convicted and sentenced to a six-month community corrections order with a requirement to complete 50 hours of unpaid community work. “That reflects the fact there are two separate incidents and the second incident was on someone who was working trying to assist you and experienced a terrible and disgusting assault,” Ms Torres said. “You need to contribute something to the community by doing that community work.” If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.


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