Jetstar worker cleared of assault

The Jetstar worker was acting in self-defence and found not guilty.
The Jetstar worker was acting in self-defence and found not guilty. Close Up

FORMER radio DJ Iain Stables threw a portable radio at a Jetstar check-in worker and made a racist slur before being punched in the face, a court has heard.

Patrick Joseph Ulberg said he was acting in self-defence and was found not guilty of assaulting Stables at the Manukau District Court yesterday.

Mr Ulberg had a smile on his face as he left court with his lawyer.

"It's a big lesson for all people. I have to calm down myself."

He said he had to talk to his boss at Skycare, the company that operates the check-in desks for Jetstar, but hoped to be back at work shortly.

"It was self-defence because Stables started it - it was why I had to protect myself."

The fight happened in October when Stables turned up late and was told he could not get on a Jetstar flight from Auckland to Wellington.

Stables has been charged with disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence and was in court earlier this month. He denies the charge and told the Herald he never punched Ulberg, threw a radio or made any kind of racist comments.

Judge Peter Hobbs said Stables had told a court hearing that he was upset when he couldn't get on his flight and told Mr Ulberg and his colleague: "You guys are a loser airline. You're a loser from a loser airline."

Stables had said Mr Ulberg threatened him before attacking and he received a "constant attack to the head" and was punched again while on the ground.

Judge Hobbs said Mr Ulberg's evidence was that he was called a "black mother f*****" by Stables who leaned over the waist-high counter and punched him in the chest.

Judge Hobbs said there were obvious contradictions in the accounts.

CCTV footage showed Stables sweeping bag labels off the counter and throwing the radio at Mr Ulberg.

"That in itself is an assault."

He said Stables was more than a disgruntled customer. "He was aggressive and abusive."

Judge Hobbs said an independent witness, Manish Patel, standing two metres away saw Stables "mouthing off" before throwing something.

Mr Patel also recalled Stables calling Mr Ulberg a "black mother f*****".

He did not see who was throwing punches before Stables slipped over then got back up.

"At that point, Mr Patel said he saw the defendant connect one or two punches to the face area."

Judge Hobbs said he could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the defendant was not acting in self-defence.

Stables said he was stunned by the verdict. "I'm the one who got smashed up. I didn't punch anyone... I put up a pathetic fight."

He repeatedly denied making racist comments. "I'm in the public eye. I've never done anything like that."

When asked about an appeal, police prosecutor Paul Watkins said police were "going through the decision".

Topics:  assault jetstar

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