Man strikes paraplegic in 'morally unbelievable' feud
A feud between two bin divers took a "morally unbelievable" turn when a man struck and bruised an elderly, paraplegic woman, a court has heard.
Anthony Simon Foster-Brown, 53, was sentenced to 15 months' jail in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He was accused of photographing, abusing and following a 63-year-old wheelchair-bound woman before striking her in the arm.
He pleaded not guilty to serious assault of a person over 60.
Crown prosecutor Nichale Bool told the court the victim, Ann Dean, was collecting bottles and cans from bins in Fifth Ave, Maroochydore, on December 6, last year when Foster-Brown yelled abuse, took photos of Ms Dean sifting through a bin and telling her he was going to report her to the government.
The court also heard Foster-Brown followed the woman on his bike before striking her arm and continuing to yell abuse.
"He has come up to the side of the wheelchair and with his right open arm has struck her in the inside of the middle right arm," Ms Bool said.
Ms Dean told the court she had returned to her unit complex following the assault only to find Foster-Brown waiting in the driveway.
"Since that time, I've started wearing body cameras because I was scared," she said.
Photos of Ms Dean's injuries, submitted to the court, showed bruising to the inner right arm.
The court heard the victim reported the matter to police after the bruising showed up two days later.
Ms Dean said Foster-Brown lived in a unit above her for six years until he moved out in December 2018.
In his defence, Foster-Brown told the court the victim became "curt" with him after a short time living in the same complex.
"(She) eventually stopped talking to me at all, but rather just yelled abuse when I saw her," he said.
"I never responded, I was always polite and well mannered with her."
Foster-Brown told the court the relationship may have broken down because he was noisy and declined an invite to another neighbour's unit, who was Ms Dean's friends.
"I found myself making excuses to strangers in the street because my name had just been dragged through the mud by her and a couple of other ladies at the units," he said.
Foster-Brown admitted he was also on a bin run on December 6 and took photos of the victim as a joke.
But he said he never assaulted the victim and left quietly.
"I never laid a hand on her, nor would I ever," he said.
Foster-Brown's lawyer Ambyr Cousen said Ms Dean may have made up the story because Foster-Brown was a competing bin diver and their relationship as neighbours had fallen apart.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told the court Foster-Brown's evidence wasn't credible.
"He tried hard to paint an image of Ms Dean that did not sit with the demeanour of the person in court or in fact her physical condition," she said.
"The very prospect of an elderly, disabled woman confined to a wheelchair taking on the defendant, a fairly solidly built man with whom there was obviously previous problems amongst the various tenants is almost incredulous."
The court heard Foster-Brown had a five-page-long criminal history.
He was on a three-month suspended sentence after assaulting and grabbing the penis of a man in Ms Dean's unit complex who did not return his mower in November last year.
Ms Baldwin found Foster-Brown guilty and sentenced him to 15 months' jail, to be released on parole on November 14.
This took into account the 54 days Foster-Brown had spent in pre-sentence custody.
"To assault a person is totally inappropriate, to assault an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair from a dispute over bottles and bins, it is just incredible that someone would sink to those levels," she said.
"It's morally unbelievable."