Accessible toilet and baby care station in a Singapore building
Accessible toilet and baby care station in a Singapore building

Nightclub stoush over disabled toilet

A GOLD Coast man says he was attacked by patrons at a popular Gold Coast night spot after using a disabled toilet. But it was what he alleges happened next that really upset him.

Varsity Lakes man Simon Flannery, 44, was out with his girlfriend and two friends at Waxy's Irish Pub in Surfers Paradise on Saturday night, when he claims he was violently dragged out of the venue by crowd controllers about 11pm.

But Waxy's Irish Pub manager Dowell Williams said Mr Flannery's version of events did not match up with their own.

Mr Flannery's night out watching the rugby quickly turned into a nightmare after he says he was allegedly headbutted by another patron in what he said was an unprovoked attack.

He said he was then pinned to the ground outside by security.

Mr Flannery told the Bulletin he had only had "three or four beers" throughout the day before he was attacked by a group of men who kicked open a toilet door to confront him for using the venue's disabled toilet.

He claimed he did not retaliate when confronted.

Simon Flannery says he was “unfairly” treated by security guards during a night out at Waxy’s in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams.
Simon Flannery says he was “unfairly” treated by security guards during a night out at Waxy’s in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Jerad Williams.


Mr Flannery said he was manhandled to the door and pinned to the concrete ground outside by bouncers for "up to 10 minutes" when he tried to make his way back to his table.

"I got grabbed and put in an arm lock - roughed up - by about six (security) guards … one of them grabbed my leg from behind and was twisting it … I was afraid the pressure on my wrists and ankles would snap them … it was very painful," Mr Flannery said.

"They were blocking my windpipe and putting a knee into my back … they rubbed my face into the bitumen."

When police arrived Mr Flannery was released without charge and ordered to move on.

He has since reported the incident to police, and intends to press assault charges on both the headbutter and security staff at the venue.

Mr Flannery said he was "unfairly targeted with excessive force".

A medical certificate, sighted by the Bulletin yesterday, identifies injuries to Mr Flannery's right arm, knee and grazing to the left side of his face.

Simon Flannery suffered grazing to the left side of his face.
Simon Flannery suffered grazing to the left side of his face.

He said there needed to be a culture change, as well as a change to policy to make the area safer for patrons and staff.

"If they'd said to me 'we want to take you out the front and talk to you' I would have gladly gone with them. You don't just come up from behind and grab me," he said.

"There's all different age groups that go to that pub. It could happen to anyone just looking to go out for a drink.

"It's got to change. Someone is going to get hurt or killed."

Mr Flannery called for security staff to have body-worn cameras, and undergo more training to better handle situations in the heat of the moment.

Mike Jeavons, president of the state's peak body for the security industry, the National Security Association of Australia, said crowd controllers could have as little as two weeks' training before stepping out on the job.

"They're dealing with people who are often spaced out on drugs or alcohol, they may be nasty people to start with, and they're expected to deal with them with very little power or authority," he said.

Mr Jeavons supported more training for crowd controllers and said uniforms should be more identifiable, in order to make staff more accountable.

"Often you'll find crowd controllers in clubs and pubs are wearing dark colours so they blend in, if they were wearing bright colours they can be easily identifiable and the rogues might be less likely to do something if everyone knows who they are."

Waxy's Irish Pub manager Dowell Williams said Mr Flannery's version of events did not match the hotel's version, following a review of footage.

"The hotel has followed standard operating procedures in regard to the matter and are working closely with the police," Mr Williams said in a statement.

"After initial review of the footage, the man's version of events do not match what has been seen on the footage."