Celebrity chef George Calombaris’ assault of A-League fan ‘a serious crime’, magistrate says

Updated September 08, 2017 14:19:52

Video: George Calombaris pushes Sydney FC fan (ABC News)
Related Story: Calombaris pleads guilty to assault on teen A-League fan

Map: Sydney 2000

Celebrity chef George Calombaris thought a teenager was insulting his mother when he assaulted him after the A-League grand final in May, a court has heard.

Calombaris, who appears in Channel Ten reality TV show Masterchef, was due to be sentenced today for assaulting the 19-year-old Sydney FC fan in the stands of the Sydney Football Stadium.

However, Downing Centre Local Court magistrate David Price declined to pass sentence without the assistance of a pre-sentence report.

Mr Price said the assault took place in public and was a “serious crime”.

“The accused pointed at the victim and said ‘you’re a big-mouthed man you dodgy c***’,” Mr Price said.

“He then punched him in the lower abdomen.”

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to common assault via his lawyer last month after video emerged of him confronting the fan, then being ushered away by police.

Photo: George Calombaris, 38, assaulted a football fan at Sydney Football Stadium (AAP: Joel Carrett)

In the video, Calombaris shakes his Melbourne Victory scarf at the victim, who was yelling abuse.

Calombaris then approached the man and shoved him in the chest.

His lawyer, Pat Conaghan said Calombaris thought the teenager was insulting his mother.

“He expressed that he believed the victim had called his mother a c*** and took offence to that,” Mr Conaghan said.

He asked the court to impose community service.

“For someone with no prior offences, this is on the low end of the criminal calendar,” he said.

But Mr Price disagreed and ordered a pre-sentence report in order, which would highlight any extenuating circumstances that could impact the sentence.

Calombaris will be sentenced in six weeks.

Chef apologises again and won’t attend games

Photo: George Calombaris said he would not attend any A-League soccer games for a year. (ABC: Avani Dias)

Calombaris spoke using palm cards outside the Downing Centre Local Court and said he would stop going to A-League games for a year.

“I stand down as the number one ticket holder of the Melbourne Victory and as a true supporter, what I did was wrong and I need to pay the price,” he said.

He said it was “horrible” to watch CCTV footage of the assault in court.

“I apologised to the gentleman that I approached, I shouldn’t have done that. It was wrong. I also apologised to the NSW Police, I’m sure they’ve got bigger fish to fry, pardon the pun,” he said.

“I’m not shy in telling a young kid that I’ve made a mistake and in life. It’s okay to make mistakes — it’s how we fix them after.”

Calombaris would not comment on whether public assaults need to be taken more seriously.

“At the end of the day I’m just a cook.”

Some restaurant staff still not paid entitlements

Meanwhile, Calombaris’s restaurant empire has been criticised for failing to meet a deadline to back pay former staff who were underpaid and did not receive their entitlements.

In April, Calombaris apologised after 162 of his company Made Establishment Group’s 430 employees — including staff at his Melbourne restaurants The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic — were short-changed a total of $2.6 million.

On Thursday, the company released a statement that said former staff were still waiting for payments.

“We understand the frustration of our former employees and have apologised for our past poor systems and processes that resulted in employees not being paid their full entitlements under the award. We are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible,” it said.

“We have also taken action to try and speed up the process and reduce delays. We have employed additional resources to help in calculating and reconciling the entitlements, some of which go back six years.

“Each week we continue to process payments of claims from former employees.”

A spokeswoman for the Fair Work Ombudsman said it was understood the majority of wage reconciliations for former employees had been completed.

However, those that remain outstanding have taken longer than expected to complete.

“While we appreciate that large-scale reconciliations can take considerable time and resources, we do not believe it is reasonable for former employees to have to wait this long to receive wages owed to them,” the spokeswoman said.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, sport, food-and-cooking, television, sydney-2000

First posted September 08, 2017 13:30:05

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