Store owner spat explodes into violence
A KOREAN walks into an Irish cafe.
It sounds like the start of an old joke, but nobody's laughing about the bitter feud between two store owners that exploded in violence at one of the Gold Coast's biggest shopping centres.
The incident started with a dramatic confrontation between two traders in the middle of Southport's Australia Fair Shopping Centre on Friday evening and left a 51-year-old man in hospital and his 64-year-old alleged attacker facing serious assault charges.
The alleged victim's 39-year-old wife and a 61-year-old woman caught in the crossfire - a total stranger just visiting the shops - were also injured.
Charles Hili yesterday faced Southport Magistrates Court charged with three counts of assault, and one count each of assault occasioning bodily harm, serious assault of a person over 60 and going armed so as to cause fear.
He was granted bail to reappear in court on September 10.
Sources told The Sunday Mail that the feud between Hili, who runs the popular Blarney Stone Cafe with his wife, and the owner of Australia Fair Fruit & Veg across the way had been simmering for months over a series of petty disagreements.
It allegedly reached a flashpoint when the fruit shop owner confronted Hili about 4.30pm on Friday.
Hili allegedly hit the fruit store owner a number of times with a wooden club, before turning on the man's wife and punching her in the head when she tried to intervene.
While she did not require medical attention, her bloodied husband was wheeled out of the centre on a stretcher and taken to hospital.
A random shopper caught in the wrong place at the wrong time suffered cuts and bruising, but her daughter later posted on Facebook that she "will be OK".
Hili, who allegedly also brandished a knife during the dramatic incident, was held by shopping centre security staff before police swooped and took him in to custody.
As part of his bail conditions, Hili is banned from approaching the fruit store.
Australia Fair management could not be contacted yesterday for comment, and the fruit store owner also declined to talk to reporters when asked to comment.