Queenstown chef pleads guilty to drunken rampage at work

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A Queenstown chef who head-butted his boss and exposed his private parts during a drunken rampage at work will be sentenced next month.

Simon James Pankhurst, 28, pleaded guilty in Queenstown District Court today (Monday) to assaulting his employer Craig Eccles in downtown restaurant 1876 on January 11.

The court heard that Pankhurst, a sous chef, turned up to work a split-shift drunk at 10am after going out the night before.

The head chef told him to go away and sober up before returning at 3pm, but Pankhurst instead went to a nearby bar to drink with friends.

He turned up to work at 3.30pm and was immediately sent away again, ordered to come back sober at 5pm. Instead, Pankhurst left and went to Brazz bar to continue drinking. 

Restaurant owner Eccles went over to Brazz to insist that Pankhurst return to discuss his conduct. Already on a final warning at work, Pankhurst was fired on the spot at 1876.

Pankhurst then demanded his final wages and was told to come back when he was sober.

In a loud voice, he threatened Eccles, saying “he knew a lot of people around town and that they would wreck the place” and that “he knew where the victim lived”, court papers state.

While repeatedly being asked to leave, he loudly slandered the company, swearing in front of families dining at the restaurant. He continued to abuse Eccles and got right up in his face, causing Eccles to push him away. Pankhurst then punched Eccles.

Other staff members tried to keep Pankhurst away from Eccles and Pankhurst attempted to bite their arms. He then spat in Eccles’ face and head-butted him.

“He then got his penis out of his pants and threatened to urinate in the bar before stating, ‘You’re lucky there’s nothing left in my bladder’,” court papers say.

Aware that police had been called, Pankhurst then walked towards Brazz while continuing to abuse Eccles.

Prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin says Pankhurst initially told police that he was the one that had been assaulted.

Judge Michael Turner convicted Pankhurst and remanded him on bail for sentencing on March 26, in time for a drug and alcohol assessment and a report into a possible sentence of home detention or community detention. “Although this is no indication that home detention or community detention would be the outcome,” he warned.