Daniel Cunningham received a $1500 fine after pleading guilty to two charges of assault occasioning bodily harm and two of wilful damage when he appeared in Gatton Magistrates Court. Picture: File
Daniel Cunningham received a $1500 fine after pleading guilty to two charges of assault occasioning bodily harm and two of wilful damage when he appeared in Gatton Magistrates Court. Picture: File

In-laws attacked in ‘out of character’ assault

A MAN has been fined over an "ugly" incident where he attacked his mother-in-law and her son, and damaged their phones.

On October 26, 2018, Daniel Cunningham, 37, and his partner were visited by his partner's mother and brother at a Laidley Heights property.

Tensions between Cunningham and his 56-year-old mother-in-law escalated from verbal to a physical conflict.

"She states Mr Cunningham had become verbally aggressive towards both her and her daughter, this continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening," Police Prosecutor Al Windsor told the Gatton Magistrates Court.

"A phone was activated, in order to record the goings-on, the defendant then asked if this recording was going on, and the victim turned the phone off. The defendant then became more aggressive towards the victim's daughter, yelling at her and ultimately spitting in her face."

It was the final straw for the mother, who picked up a coffee mug, smashed it on the ground, and threatened to throw it at Cunningham's head if he did it again.

He responded by throwing her son's phone on the roof, before seizing hers and punching it repeatedly.

He then went back to speaking with his partner, but his mother-in-law intervened, demanding Cunningham leave her daughter alone.

"The defendant has then grabbed her right arm, done a 360-degree spin and thrown her to the concrete. He got on top of her and started pulling her hair to the side, causing pain and discomfort."

The victim's son threatened to call the police and Cunningham punched him in the face, near his right eye.

Cunningham pleaded guilty to two charges of wilful damage, and two charges of assault occasioning bodily harm.

His legal representative, Mr WF Brown, noted Cunningham was a hard worker with no similarly severe incidents in his criminal history.

"He's a single parent, caring for two smaller children. He works as a sheet metal worker and has good work ethics." Mr Brown said.

"This is out of character for him, I believe there's one notation on his criminal record dating back four or five years."

He suggested a fine would be sufficient punishment but Magistrate Pete Saygers disagreed.

"I thought the offending too serious for a fine. I was thinking something community-service related," he said.

Mr Brown argued Cunningham already worked long hours, having only one day free a week to spend with his children.

The Magistrate agreed this would make a community service order too difficult to be practical.

"It was an ugly incident, with your mother-in-law being thrown to the ground, and her son involved, your partner involved, it was certainly not to your credit," he said.

"I've got no doubt that you regret your behaviour."

He was fined $1500 and no conviction was recorded.

No compensation was requested for the damaged phones.