Holy row: monk fined over food fight

There was blood on the floor at South Melbourne’s Hare Krishna temple when a violent fight over food etiquette erupted between two followers.

The unholy spat resulted in a monk yesterday being convicted and fined $600 for twice punching a follower over what was described as a breach of temple rules.

Melbourne Magistrates Court heard that the victim was hospitalised after Marek Joseph Swiderski, 36, landed blows to his nose and above an eye.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Rob Allen said the victim was in the temple’s dining room on November 4 last year when Swiderski noticed he had placed food on his plate.

Senior Constable Allen said Swiderski “adopted a boxing stance and raised both clenched fists” then struck the victim, causing severe bleeding and minor bruising.

The victim tried to run away from Swiderski before a temple member called an ambulance that took him to The Alfred hospital where he was observed for four hours.

Swiderski later told police: “The person was unstable, extremely aggressive and a danger to the temple.”

He pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally causing injury.

Defence counsel David Kent-Hughes said that on the day of the incident Swiderski was preparing food in the kitchen when he noticed the victim serving himself.

Mr Kent-Hughes said this was against the etiquette of the temple and a clear breach of a rule that to serve yourself was rude.

Aggression between the pair escalated after Swiderski advised the victim to obey the rules before he “feared for his safety and in response he hit the victim twice”, Mr Kent-Hughes said.

He said Swiderski, who has lived and worked at the temple in Danks Street for two years, regretted the assault and apologised to the victim for behaviour that was out of character and a “freakish occurrence in this man’s life”.

“Certainly this is not a man who engages in violent activity on a daily basis,” he told the magistrate, Ms Caitlin English. “His life is based on the opposite in seeking to serve his god.”

Ms English said Swiderski had overreacted and ruled that a conviction was appropriate to deter him.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Age, Australia
Aug. 19, 2004
Steve Butcher

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 18, 2004.
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