Embattled television presenter Andrew O’Keefe has avoided jail time for kicking and spitting at a woman during a “frightening and degrading” assault.
The 52-year-old was found guilty of common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of possessing a prohibited drug and contravening an apprehended violence order in Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday.
The former host of Channel 7’s Deal or No Deal pleaded guilty to the AVO charge but fought the rest of the charges in a three-day hearing last year.
He smiled broadly and wore a colourful pale green plaid suit with a blue and white checked shirt as he entered the courtroom.
However, he became agitated in court when Magistrate Alison Viney found him guilty of assaulting a woman and spitting at her during a violent altercation in September 2021.
The former Weekend Sunrise host muttered angrily and scoffed while shaking his head as the magistrate delivered her decision.
The court heard he had been staying with the woman, who cannot be identified, when an argument broke out after he insulted her child.
After the woman asked O’Keefe to leave the house, the court was told he forcefully shoved her against a doorway, injuring her hand and wrist.
The 52-year-old then lashed out at the woman and kicked her hard in the thigh, causing her to fall to the ground.
The court heard he held her down with his hands on her chest while she shouted for help.
O’Keefe told her “good riddance” and spat at her, which the victim described as “frightening and degrading”.
A neighbour told the hearing she heard O’Keefe being “aggressive and angry” and later saw scratch marks all over the woman’s chest.
“It was the first thing I saw, she was really shaken … her voice, her body, she was in a lot of shock and fear at that stage,” the neighbour said.
“She had scratches up her arms and marks on her chest … she was limping”.
The former Channel 7 star told the court he thought the woman’s injuries were self-inflicted.
Ms Viney opined he had “constantly appeared to downplay his own actions” while giving evidence in his hearing, particularly “with regard to his emotional response … and situations which were not going the way he wanted them to.”
She remarked the former White Ribbon ambassador had “denied getting angry with the woman at all” during the exchange – a claim which was refuted by body worn footage and a witness account.
The magistrate told O’Keefe his actions were “absolutely condemned” by the court.
“You treated (the woman) … with disrespect. Your actions were violent and degrading,” she said.
“You placed her in a position of fear, not only for herself but for her children in their own home.”
Ms Viney sentenced O’Keefe to a 12-month community corrections order and three 18-month community corrections order for the domestic violence offences.
The court was told O’Keefe suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar affective disorder, for which he requires daily medication.
“I accept your mental health condition may have contributed to your actions,” Ms Viney told him.
She also found the former host of The Chase guilty of being in possession of two illegal drugs, which were found in his apartment when he was arrested two days after the assault. He was convicted and fined $800.
The court heard O’Keefe has struggled with drug addiction, which Ms Viney said had “robbed him” of his successful and high-profile media career and happy marriage.
She noted the former TV personality’s rehabilitation was “an ongoing concern”.
“Mr O’Keefe will continue to be susceptible to drug relapse, and unless he is vigilant to the warning bells … we may well see him back before the criminal justice system,” the magistrate said.
The former game show host had also been charged with resisting arrest and common assault, but Ms Viney dismissed both charges on Wednesday after finding the police had not been executing their duties at the time.
Outside court, O’Keefe claimed he is not an angry man.
“I’ll be lodging an appeal,” he told reporters as he walked away.