Footballer facing jail time for three Launceston CBD assaults

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A Tasmanian footballer and former heavyweight boxer is facing jail time after being found guilty on three counts of common assault relating to an early morning fight that left one man lying unconscious in a pool of blood. Dakota James Bannister, of Newham, had changed his plea to guilty for striking Bakers Lane nightclub security guard William Kennewell to the head about 2am on December 21, 2019. On Friday, Magistrate Sharon Cure also found the 24-year-old guilty of striking two other men, Christopher Hughes and William Forrest, between 2.30am and 3am on the same day. RELATED NEWS: Mr Hughes and Mr Forrest were walking with a group of friends down George Street in Launceston’s CBD when Bannister and a second man came towards them. A fight then ensued, with the court previously hearing a number of witness accounts from numerous men involved the alcohol-fuelled tussle. Defence counsel Jessica Stewart had argued identification was a major issue in the case, as some witnesses had looked up Bannister’s profile on Facebook. Police prosecutor Matt Hills submitted the witnesses were credible and reliable, even though they admitted to being intoxicated. In reaching her decision Ms Cure said she was satisfied that Bannister had been the main aggravator of the fight that left Mr Forrest lying on the pavement with a pool of blood around his head and Mr Hughes with a chipped tooth. She accepted that the evidence of the men put together was credible, and determined Bannister was guilty of the assault charges against Mr Hughes and Mr Forrest. Ms Cure said Bannister was lucky Mr Forrest had not been killed as a result of the punch. “It takes my breath away how serious this is, how serious the consequences could have been,” she said. Ms Stewart submitted that Bannister had no recollection of the event, because of how much alcohol he had consumed. She said the assault was very out of character for him, and there had been no allegations of reoffending since. Ms Stewart said he was at risk of losing his long-term employment as a result of the case, and made a submission for a suspended sentence. However, Mr Hills said the assault charges were at the highest end of those put before the Magistrates Court and were serious offences that required strong public denunciation. Mr Hills said the assault happened in a public place, involved innocent bystanders and left both victims with significant and longstanding injuries. He submitted that a full suspended sentence would undermine the seriousness of the assaults. Ms Cure bailed Bannister to reappear for sentencing on July 2 and indicated it was likely he would face a jail term. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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