Sean Barnard pleads guilty to Nelson Bay pub glassing

Newcastle courthouse.

Newcastle courthouse.

A MAN on bail accused of seriously assaulting two police officers at Shoal Bay in 2014 has pleaded guilty to glassing another punter at a Nelson Bay pub. 

Sean Paul Barnard, 29, of Nelson Bay, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from the maximum security section of Cessnock Correctional Centre. 

Barnard’s solicitor, Chris O’Brien, entered a plea of guilty to a charge of reckless wounding after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew a more serious allegation of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

According to a statement of police facts, which DPP solicitor Brooke Ellery said were not yet agreed upon between the parties, Barnard and the victim were drinking at the Sea Breeze Hotel at Nelson Bay on April 22 this year when a conversation about Barnard’s girlfriend became heated. 

The pair were on the balcony of the hotel when Barnard, who was holding a schooner glass in his left hand, allegedly asked the victim: “What did you say about my girlfriend?” 

The victim allegedly replied: “What did you say, sorry?”.

CCTV footage from the hotel appears to show Barnard poke the victim a number of times in the chest before grabbing him by the left shoulder and swinging the glass into the victim’s right ear and neck. 

During a bail application in April, solicitor Drew Hamilton had said that CCTV footage showed an “impulsive act, a spontaneous act” after the conversation between the pair soured. 

The force of the blow showered bystanders in shards of glass and the pair grappled for a moment before security broke it up. 

Barnard was walked from the hotel before fleeing on foot, only to turn himself into police the next day. 

He had been on bail for more than two-and-a-half years in relation to the incident with police, but has now been in custody since his arrest in April. 

The victim was treated at the scene before being flown to John Hunter Hospital where he underwent surgery. 

The matter was adjourned to Newcastle District Court on July 18, when Barnard will also appear alongside his three co-accuseds – Alan Mark Chegwidden, Matthew Terrance Connell and Jess Aaron Keatinge – in relation to the wild melee at Shoal Bay in November, 2014. 

That matter has evolved into a long-running and complicated saga, which has included a stay of the proceedings in May last year after lawyers for the four men referred the matter to the Police Integrity Commission, citing “overt and flagrant breaches of police protocol” concerning the use of tasers. 

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