Grand Hotel publican Dennis Corliss
Grand Hotel publican Dennis Corliss

Publican sued for $200,000

A CHILDERS publican has been ordered to pay nearly $200,000 to a man for throwing a glass object at him through a window and injuring his eye.

In a civil court decision in the Rockhampton Supreme Court, Judge Duncan McMeekin awarded 39-year-old Terry Gibbings-Johns $192,152 after ruling Grand Hotel publican Dennis Corliss had pegged either a pub glass or ashtray at him in May 2005.

The publican said yesterday he intended to appeal the payout decision, but could not comment further on the case.

The court was told during the two-day hearing that Mr Gibbings-Johns was drunk after boozing at another hotel, when he started walking home after closing time on May 7.

About 1am, Mr Gibbings-Johns walked past the Grand Hotel, stopped and had an argument with Mr Corliss.

Court documents showed there was “bad feeling” between the two men because the publican had banned the Mr Gibbings-Johns from his pub a couple of months before.

There is no dispute a window from the pub was broken as Mr Gibbings-Johns tried to gain access to his former drinking hole.

But the two men had different versions of events on how the drinker sustained his eye injury.

One witness told the court Mr Gibbings-Johns asked to be let in and Mr Corliss abused him.

“(Mr Gibbings-Johns) responded ... by banging the window frame with the palms of both hands,” Judge McMeekin said during the outlining of his judgment.

“The window above him shattered and fell in front of him.

“He then observed the defendant to throw a pot glass that had been resting on his knee straight at him through the window, striking him in the face.”

But Corliss’s defence team argued the drinker got the injury from shards of glass falling on him when he smashed the window, or because he head-butted the window.

The court was told that if an object had been thrown at all, it would have been a solid ashtray that was “unlikely to shatter on striking a human face”.

The judge said he could not resolve “the conflicts in the evidence concerning how the window was broken by the plaintiff and the nature of the object thrown by the defendant”.

But in the end, he found the publican had thrown a glass object at Mr Gibbings-Johns’s face and caused “a penetrating” eye injury.

A doctor’s report showed the victim had suffered 80% vision loss in the eye, plus scarring to the skin, cornea and retina.

He said injuries caused to different parts of Mr Gibbings-Johns’s left eye meant he was unable to return to his roof tiling trade. But he also said the man had not worked as a tiler for several years, and the injury would not stop him from working in other areas of the construction industry.

The judge decided the damages payout based on several reasons including past economic loss, loss of superannuation benefits and a loss of earning capacity in the future.

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