Security footage showing the aftermath of the Noosa punch involving Virgil Power.
Security footage showing the aftermath of the Noosa punch involving Virgil Power.

Police lodge appeal over Noosa coward punch sentence

POLICE have lodged an appeal against the sentence handed to the Sunshine Coast grandson of a judge involved in a shocking 'coward punch' assault on a man in Noosa.

Virgil Macquarie Power, 29, was given community service and let off without a conviction by Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan last week.

Security footage showed Mr Power landing a single swift punch to Michael Halbauer's head at a steak house in Noosa Heads, last September.

The punch resulted in about $24,000 damage to the victim's face, which Power agreed to pay compensation for.

Power is the son of a Noosa solicitor, grandson of a judge, and great-great great grandson of a Supreme Court judge.

In a statement on Friday, Sunshine Coast police said the Queensland Police Service had lodged an appeal against the sentence which included no jail time but 240 hours of unpaid community service work.

"It will be argued the sentence was manifestly inadequate,'' police said.

"The Queensland Police Service lodged the appeal with the District Court at Maroochydore yesterday.

"The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been requested to take carriage of the case.''

Police Minister Jack Dempsey welcomed the appeal, saying the sentence was not in line with community expectations and did not set an adequate deterrent.

"The community was outraged by this horrific attack and rightly so, it was a sickening attack," he said.

Magistrate says attack not an example of "gratuitous violence"

Ms Callaghan found Power's single violent punch was not an example of "gratuitous violence".

But what sparked outrage was the comments that followed.

The police prosecutor told the magistrate: "Your honour sits in this jurisdiction and certainly the prevalence of incidents in clubs and pubs is certainly becoming quite common these days.''

"Not as common as domestic violence,'' Ms Callaghan responded before later adding that editors of newspapers "run the community campaign, as opposed to running a campaign against domestic violence''.

Even the defendant's lawyer pointed out there were domestic violence campaigns run in the media.

"Yes. I know. It's just started. International Women's Day yesterday,'' the magistrate replied.

Another appeal by police against 'light sentence' successful

The Maroochydore-based magistrate has repeatedly made headlines for light sentences.

News Corp reported on Friday that police have successfully appealed three of Ms Callaghan's sentences, the latest being for a serial drink driver who was caught by police in Nambour doing burnouts after downing nine self-mixed bourbons.

He was on parole at the time and it was his fourth arrest for drink-driving.

Ms Callaghan let the man off with a good behaviour bond and six months' licence disqualification.

But a judge reviewing her decision yesterday deemed the sentencing "manifestly inadequate and afflicted by error" and bumped up the penalties.

Ms Callaghan had argued the 23-year-old offender should not be fined because he was on a disability pension and could not afford it.


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