A Warilla man who shattered his girlfriend’s face in a roadside one-punch attack will spend at least two years, three months behind bars.
Ashley Palmer has a long history of drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems and a level of aggression that had earned him multiple stints in jail.
But until December 24, 2016, he had never hit his partner of nine years, Wollongong District Court has heard.
After arguing at North Gong Hotel, the pair crossed the road before Palmer closed the gap between them and lashed out, punching her in the face.
The woman fell to the ground and was assisted by a hotel security guard, while Palmer fled. She suffered fractures to her nose and eye socket, bruising, swelling and nerve damage.
Despite their subsequent split, the woman wrote a letter of support which was considered by Judge Mark Marien ahead of sentencing proceedings on Monday, which she attended.
The court heard Palmer had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had endured a difficult childhood, which had included regular beatings from his mother and years in the foster care system.
Judge Marien noted Palmer had taken steps towards rehabilitation, but found his mental disorder did not reduce his culpability.
“I find it hard in this case, where the offender admitted to [a court-appointed psychologist] that all of his prior ... violent offending was related to his … alcohol abuse,” he said. “In other words, the offender would be fully aware that when he becomes intoxicated, particularly on alcohol and if in combination with illicit drugs, that he would be in a state where, if confronted with conflict, he may well act in a violent way.”
Palmer has been in custody since January 1.
He was sentenced to a total term of three years, nine months imprisonment.
He will become eligible for parole on March 31, 2019. The judge ordered that he enter a full-time drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at that time.