A man who was drunk on a V/Line train punched a conductor who was responding to a complaint he had tried to hug a pair of women, a magistrate has found.
Dale Browney, of Horsham, initially pleaded not guilty to assaulting the conductor, but was found guilty by Magistrate Julie Grainger in a virtual hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.
The court heard evidence from the victim, the police informant, and Browney, and viewed body-worn camera from the incident.
Browney was sitting on a Melbourne-bound train about to depart from Ballarat station in August 2020, the court was told.
The train conductor, the victim, was doing normal pre-departure checks when he was told by two women a drunk man had tried to hug them.
After they pointed him out through the window, the conductor walked down the aisle towards Browney.
It was alleged Browney then stuck out a closed fist, striking the conductor in the stomach "forcefully', but "not enough to wind" him.
The conductor had dealt with Browney on previous occasions, and assessed him as being intoxicated.
In his evidence, he said Browney then stood up and "dropped a shoulder" as if to swing another punch, so he retreated to the station and phoned police.
Police attended about an hour and a half later, and body-worn camera footage shows Browney struggling to answer questions about where he lived, and twice offering to give money to the officers.
Browney said he had a clear memory of the night in question, and vehemently denied striking the conductor - he said the women may have misunderstood when he raised his arms, and claimed the conductor "powerwalked" towards him "acting the policeman".
Magistrate Grainger said she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, given the evidence and footage, that Browney was drunk in a public place.
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She added that given her finding, she was also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that his memory appeared to be more of a "reconstruction", and found him guilty of assaulting the train conductor.
"You intentionally punched (the victim) in the stomach in the process of him just trying to do his job, which is keeping passengers safe and following up a complaint," she said.
The case was adjourned for sentencing.
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