‘Savage’ beating after simple COVID request

A "once promising athlete" who "savagely" beat two unsuspecting members of the public at a transit point because he was asked to observe social distancing has been condemned by a court for his thuggish behaviour.

Appearing with a surgical mask on at the Cleveland Magistrates Court Christopher Patrick Gronvold, 27, pleaded guilty to assaults occasioning bodily harm in public while adversely affected, commit public nuisance and two counts of contravention of a probation order.

The court heard Redland Bay man Gronvold had been drunk and "spoiling for a fight" when he punched a man with "full force" three times in the face after being asked to observe social distancing while waiting for a ferry at around 4pm on April 16 at Macleay Island.

The defendant's unprovoked attack was preceded by him asking his victim "what's your f---ing problem c--t?" and would not let up with Gronvold pinning the man between steel railings at the ferry terminal and beating on him.

Christopher Gronvold pleads guilty to assault. Picture: Supplied
Christopher Gronvold pleads guilty to assault. Picture: Supplied

The court was told a doctor's report revealed the victim suffered a bloodied mouth, injured finger and bruising to his chest, back and ribs but did not address the psychological harm imposed.

Described by acting magistrate Leanne Scoines as an example of "street violence at its worst and grubbiest" Gronvold's attack did not stop with his first victim but continued when he punched a 16-year-old boy in the face who came to the assistance of the felled man, leaving the teen bleeding from the mouth.

The court heard a "highly aggressive and agitated" Gronvold stalked up and down an area adjacent to the ferry terminal after he was refused service before police arrived.

The defendant then claimed to officers he was attacked by persons unknown.

He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.112 per cent at the time.

The court was further told the defendant, who had assaulted his victims while on probation for violence, had a history littered with similar offending:

Gronvold was sentenced for multiple counts of public nuisance, an assault and drug offences in 2015.

Christopher Gronvold fronts court for attacks on ferry passengers. Picture: Supplied
Christopher Gronvold fronts court for attacks on ferry passengers. Picture: Supplied

In 2018 he was given community service for obstructing police and in 2019 was sentenced to multiple drug offences and placed on probation.

The court heard "everything had been tried to rehabilitate him" only for his "absolutely appalling" offending to escalate.

Defence barrister James Veivers said his client's behaviour could not be downplayed and conceded that the community and the court had only disdain for it.

Mr Veivers said Gronvold was described by his mother as a once promising athlete and rugby player who still enjoyed the support of his family.

The court heard, having previously made a poor showing of adhering to his probation, the defendant had since April adhered strictly to its requirements and included visits to a psychologist and the formulation of a mental health plan.

Mr Veivers said "the penny had finally dropped" for his client who had worked full-time at the Orchy fruit juice factory prior to losing his employment when COVID-19 struck.

Acting magistrate Scoines cut short Gronvold's attempt to explain his behaviour stating multiple witnesses, unknown to one another, had provided "fairly consistent" accounts of the attack, an attack she couched as "hugely disproportionate" and "completely unacceptable".

Gronvold was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, wholly suspended over 18 months, fined $750 and ordered to complete 160 hours of community service.

A conviction was recorded and the defendant was placed on a one-year non-contact order towards his victim.



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