VERDICT IN: Bay barman cleared of ’smashing’ patron
THE barman charged with assaulting patrons with a metal pole at a popular Pialba tavern nearly two years ago has been found not guilty and is a free man.
Emil Mendoza was found not guilty by a jury in Hervey Bay District Court last week.
Mr Mendoza stood trial on three charges, including one of grievous bodily harm and two of assault following a stand-off with a group of friends at a Pearl Jam tribute gig at the Bay Central Tavern on April 21, 2018.
The defence successfully argued Mr Mendoza acted in self-defence and had been provoked by James Corkery and Darren Alderman on the night of the incident.
Tensions soared at the tavern when Mr Corkery and Mr Alderman refused to leave following a verbal confrontation with Mr Mendoza.
The court heard Mr Alderman became angry when the barman served a woman who got to the bar after him.
CCTV footage of Mr Mendoza grabbing the metal rod and leaving the bar was played in court.
Crown prosecutor Brendan White called several witnesses who testified they saw a man matching Mr Mendoza’s description lifting the rod above his head and “smashing it down.”
However, defence barrister Craig Eberhardt told the court none of the witnesses saw all of the events leading up to the incident.
Mr Eberhardt then played clips he argued showed the patrons were drunk and had caused the conflict.
He pointed out that a bottle was thrown into the bar area and someone had tried to strike Mr Mendoza.
Footage from the camera above the main entrance showed Mr Corkery running back into the tavern in the direction of Mr Mendoza before he was struck.
Mr Eberhardt argued Mr Corkery’s friend, Natalie Wilcox followed him because she “knew something bad was going to happen.”
Ms Wilcox said she was looking out for her friend.
The jury deliberated for about an hour after the four-day trial wrapped up before returning a not-guilty verdict.