Court watches fight clip

FESTERING SITUATION: An ongoing feud sparked the brawl witnessed by hundreds of people.
FESTERING SITUATION: An ongoing feud sparked the brawl witnessed by hundreds of people. Rockhampton Morning Bulletin

A FEUD between two families in the Cherbourg and Woorabinda communities brought shame to Cherbourg, elders of the town told Murgon Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

The festering situation that started with violence in Rockhampton in January, culminated with a brawl in Cherbourg on April 19, when 300-400 people gathered and 16 were charged.

Video footage of the brawl shown in court displayed a chaotic scene.

Shouts of abuse could be heard as frantic bursts of violence broke out between individual men and women, while hundreds of people watched on, many of them children.

It took three hours for police officers from seven stations three hours to break up the fights and disperse the crowd.

Keith Joseph Bone was named one of the principal antagonists in the ongoing feud and he pleaded guilty to charges of public nuisance and breaching bail.

Elder Aunty Lillian Gray said Bone let his family down.

"I'm really ashamed you know because that's happened out in our community where I was born and where I live," she said.

"I just hope any other young people here today listen about getting into fights.

"It's not right, we can't live that way."

Police prosecutor Wayne Bushell said Cherbourg Police were aware of the trouble brewing and sought help from the Barambah Local Justice Group and Woorabinda Local Justice Group who tried to set up meditation between the families, but were rejected.

Solicitor Andrew Gillard said Bone's involvement in the brawl, while it was serious, was short lived.

"He was knocked to the ground and kicked in the face and he did receive injuries from that," he said.

Mr Gillard said Bone had not been involved in the mediation attempts and many of the public nuisance charges were the result of Bone reacting to provocations.

"He moved to the Murgon area (from Rockhampton) to get away from the trouble," he said.

"He accepts he does need to take responsibly for what happened."

Magistrate Simon Young said Bone brought shame on the Cherbourg community.

"This is a community that you don't even live in," he said.

"You are certainly bound to it by family and by culture.

"You've caused consequences for them that they will spend years overcoming."

Bone was sentenced to 11 months in prison with immediate parole and he was banned from Cherbourg until the end of his sentence.

Bone told the elders he would deal with his anger for the sake of his family and the community.

"I'm going to throw that anger out the window," he said.

"I've got to change."

Magistrate says brawl fuels racism

VIDEO footage of a massive brawl in Cherbourg showed violent behaviour that Magistrate Simon Young said fuelled racism against indigenous Australians.

The video was shown during the sentencing of Keith Joseph Bond, who was involved in the fight.

"When we ask the question why it is so difficult to combat racism against indigenous people in Australia, that video gives a very strong answer as to why it's hard to change people's wrong attitudes," he said.

"In doing what you've done, You've become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

"Now it doesn't all rest with you and I accept that completely.

"But if you give racist people an excuse to hold onto their wrong beliefs, then it's going to be difficult to get the change we need."

Mr Young said the fight happened at a time when the contributions made by Cherbourg and Barambah men in the First World War were being commemorated.

"These were men who chose to volunteer to fight for a country that didn't believe in them," he said.

"At the time there was still speculation about whether they were fully human or not.

"They experienced racism of the type that you will never know.

"But they planted a seed, they watered that seed with their blood overseas and they came back and were treated as sub-human.

"You've dishonoured their memory at a time when the nation was recognising their sacrifices."

'We have so many things to be proud of'

CHERBOURG'S Aunty Lillian Gray believes the brawl that happened on April 19 does not reflect the community she knows and loves.

She says Cherbourg has much to be proud of and isn't a bad place.

"I am certainly really disappointed (about the brawl) ... We have so many things to be proud of in Cherbourg, all the good sport people that come from here," she said.

"We have the Ration Shed, which has our history, what's going on today, and our future for our children.

"Whenever I go down (to the Ration Shed), I get tears in my eyes because I'm so proud of it."

Aunty Lillian wants the community to be full of pride in how far it has come and all the facilities Cherbourg has.

"We have a TAFE, our aged-care home, hospital, radio station, we have a cafe, we have so much that we didn't have before," she said.

"I'm proud to live in Cherbourg."

Topics:  brawl cherbourg court crime fight south burnett woorabinda

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