MP Fitzgibbon's son convicted

The son of Hunter federal MP Joel Fitzgibbon was convicted yesterday of indecently assaulting a young woman at a Cessnock hotel in what his barrister described as a "moment of madness".

Jack Fitzgibbon, 21, pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and told Cessnock Local Court that he did not put his hand up the victim's skirt after midnight on September 11 last year.

Magistrate Ron Maiden found the offence proved and said he was impressed with the victim's evidence after she told the court that Fitzgibbon touched her on the vagina on the outside of her underwear.

The victim complained about Fitzgibbon's behaviour immediately and her evidence in court was consistent with what she told police, Mr Maiden said.

Fitzgibbon admitted that he sat on the victim's lap in the beer garden of the Cessnock Hotel, but he denied being attracted to or "fancying" the victim despite admitting that he rubbed her thighs and told her that she had nice "shapely legs".

Mr Maiden said that evidence was "completely unbelievable" and damaging to Fitzgibbon's credibility.

Defence barrister Paul Rosser QC argued that Fitzgibbon's DNA was not found on the victim's stockings while the victim's evidence, when compared with what could be seen on security camera footage, made it physically impossible for Fitzgibbon to have touched the victim in the manner she described.

Mr Maiden disagreed.

Fitzgibbon was placed in a friendly headlock by one of his football mates immediately after the assault and when he was released by the mate Fitzgibbon returned his attention to the victim and encouraged her to hit him, the court heard.

She slapped him three times and punched him once.

Fitzgibbon said he encouraged her to hit him to "defuse the situation" and denied it was an admission of guilt.

During sentencing submissions, Mr Rosser said Fitzgibbon's actions were "a moment of madness" and that the case was widely known in the community because of Fitzgibbon's profile.

Fitzgibbon was supported by two friends at the hearing.

His father did not attend.

Mr Maiden fined Fitzgibbon $2000 and placed him on a good behaviour bond for two years. Fitzgibbon lodged an appeal.

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