THE man who king-hit former professional surfer Jake Sylvester during a night out last year has narrowly avoided a jail term, with a magistrate imposing an 18-month intensive corrections order (ICO).
Billy Patrick Clay, 23, punched Mr Sylvester, the two-time Surfest Pro Junior champion, in the head outside The Family Hotel on February 24, “immediately” knocking him unconscious and forcing him to the ground where he struck the back of his head on the roadway, fracturing his skull.
Clay, who was represented by barrister Terry Healey and solicitor Cameron Duncan, had pleaded not guilty to reckless grievous bodily harm and was due to face a hearing in Newcastle Local Court in April when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Magistrate Peter Barnett, SC, was scathing in his assessment of the offence, but was ultimately convinced by Mr Healey that there was other alternatives to a full-time jail term.
Mr Barnett sent Clay to be assessed for an intensive corrections order and on Tuesday, after Clay was deemed suitable, sentenced him to an 18-month ICO, a form of custodial sentence served in the community.