A 24-year-old plumber Jai Ryan on Thursday pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful assault, following a homophobic attack on Melbourne hairdresser Mykey O’Halloran at his Phillip Island Home. Ryan is now placed under a one year good behaviour bond and has been ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to Thorne Harbour Health.
As previously reported by Star Observer, Ryan verbally attacked O’Halloran over his plans to paint his new Phillip Island house in rainbow colours.
The Herald Sun reported that Magistrate Marita Altman in a scathing judgment, slammed Ryan’s actions as “uneducated, ignorant and breathlessly stupid”.
“You are a white, heterosexual, cisgender male. You have all the privilege in the world,” the magistrate said.
“Gays are everywhere,” Altman said, “they work in the court, the police force — our community is beautifully diverse.”
O’Halloran told Star Observer that it felt good to know that the LGBTQI+ community was supported in the justice system. “It feels good knowing the court has said exactly how it is. Sometimes people don’t realise how privileged they are until they’re called out on bad behaviour,” said O’Halloran.
Ryan Said Gay People “Freak Him Out”
Following his arrest, Ryan was questioned by the police and admitted to being on O’Halloran’s property on the night of the attack. He denied having either threatened or hurt O’Halloran. Ryan had allegedly told police he was angry because he had a “shit day at work” and that he didn’t like gay people because they “freak him out”. He claimed that a rainbow house in the neighbourhood would “devalue his property”.
In April, O’Halloran told Star Observer that the March 16th attack “was really shocking and traumatising and a total invasion of my personal space. Five men came onto my property around twenty to ten at night and were yelling homophobic slurs and telling me not to paint my house rainbow. One even threatened to come back and kill me if I did paint my house.”
After news of the attack went viral, the local Phillip Island and Gippsland community rallied behind O’Halloran, and helped him paint his house in rainbow colours.
‘One-off Isolated Incident’
Ryan’s lawyer Rebecca Fairthorne reportedly claimed he “was under stress at work at the time of the attack.”
In his victim impact statement, O’Halloran told the court that the attack had brought back past childhood trauma bullying and assaults in high school. O’Halloran said that following the incident he has had nightmares about Ryan.
Ryan’s lawyer argued that it was a one-off and isolated incident. “He can’t change the conduct on the night but in an attempt to move forward, he has apologised to the victim,” the lawyer added.
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