Byron backpacker attacker arrested

A BACKPACKER who fell asleep in a Byron Bay laneway late at night was robbed of his money and a mobile phone.

James Nugent, 21, of Ballina, who gave police the bogus alias of Andrew Towers when arrested, pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court this week to stealing after he woke the traveller at 1am on August 21 behind the Byron Bay Bakehouse.

Nugent demanded the backpacker hand over his mobile phone, money and cigarettes before running away.

In police facts before the court, the victim noticed the offender had a distinctive tattoo on his neck.

At 3am the traveller and two Canadian backpackers, who were helping search for the offender, saw Nugent with a group of men near a hotel.

When the victim accused Nugent of stealing and asked for his phone back, Nugent denied he had it before punching the backpacker twice in the face.

Nugent and his mates attacked the traveller and the two Canadians, with the affray continuing along Lawson Street before the backpackers fled back to where they were staying.

Nugent was arrested by police, but ran off. He was re-arrested moments later.

He admitted the affray to the officers, saying he had been ‘up for a fight’.

In court, Nugent also pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and affray.

Magistrate Robyn Denes will sentence Nugent on January 15.



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