Tabulam resident Brian Baker covers his face with a newspaper as he leaves the Lismore Court House with his wife Christine after being found guilty last Friday of assaulting their house builder.
Tabulam resident Brian Baker covers his face with a newspaper as he leaves the Lismore Court House with his wife Christine after being found guilty last Friday of assaulting their house builder. Ross Irby

Head kick earns Tabulam man a bond

BRIAN BAKER has been convicted of kicking his home builder in the head during a heated dispute over the removal of building materials at the site of his new Tabulam house.

Lismore Local Court Magistrate Robyn Denes found independent evidence from two witnesses, a building inspector and an officer from Fair Trading, to be truthful in that they saw the kicking incident.

Baker, 60, of Paddys Flat Road, was found guilty by Ms Denes of assaulting Ross Pankhurst, a Ballina-based builder, at Tabulam on January 14 last year.

In the defended hearing last Friday, Fair Trading inspector Kelvin Gowans said he was at the house site because of a dispute between Baker and Mr Pankhurst, whose company, Ballina Building Centre, had the building contract.

He said there was ‘a lot of animosity’ between both men, with verbal jibes and physical contact. He saw them scuffling and bumping against each other when Mr Pankhurst tried to load building materials on a sling to remove from the site.

“I saw Baker kick the builder when he (Mr Pankhurst) was bending over,” he said.

“It appeared to be a kick. I saw his leg moving. It was more of a short jab (by Baker with his foot). I had a clear view. Mr Pankhurst’s head was down.”

When he told Baker he saw him kick Mr Pankhurst in the head, Mr Gowans said Baker replied: “I didn’t. I kneed him in self-defence as he elbowed me.”

Building insurance observer Andrew Smith said mediations between Baker and Mr Pankhurst had failed and ‘I saw the two gentlemen fighting over the slings’.

“There was a fair amount of aggro between the two, more so from Mr Baker,” he said.

He said Mr Pankhurst appeared to stumble forward off a pile of cladding on his hands and knees and ‘I saw Mr Baker kick Mr Pankhurst in his head’.

Mr Smith said he and Mr Gowans stood between the two men, who were yelling and shouting at each other.

Baker in his evidence said there had been ongoing problems with the construction of his house, the contract had run out, and he had objected when wall cladding material was being loaded on a truck to be taken away as there was nothing wrong with it.

“He said ‘piss off you old (expletive)’ and knocked me backwards,” Baker said.

“He shoulder charged me. I grabbed him and drove him down into the ground. He got a lump of wood.

“I’d just had major bypass surgery from my knee up past my groin.

“At no stage did I lift a leg. I’ve driven him into the ground. At no stage did I kick that man.”

Baker said Mr Pankhurst was ‘a cranky, aggressive little fella’ and that was why he had thrown him into the ground.

Ms Denes placed Baker on a nine-month good behaviour bond.



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