Mark Thomson found guilty of assault on Jodie Cooper at Lennox Head
Mark Andrew Thomson - AKA Carcass - appeared before the Ballina Local Court today, accused of attacking Jodie Cooper at Lennox Head on August 22 last year.
The court heard the incident erupted after Carcass dropped in on Cooper on his surf mat and began aggressively veering towards her.
Ms Cooper told the court she feared for her life as she was grabbed by the head and repeatedly held underwater.
"It was quick and so violent," she said. "Every time I'd come to go to the surface he'd yank my hair and push me back down again.
"My lungs were burning. I thought I was going to drown, I was fearful for my life."
Ms Cooper said the assault continued until she "went limp".
"That's when he released me," she said. "I shot straight to the surface and took an almighty gasp of air."
Ms Cooper told the court her physical injuries began manifesting in the days after the incident, including a painful scalp, headache and whiplash-like symptoms.
The court was shown a short video clip of the final seconds of the incident, which Magistrate Karen Stafford said supported Ms Cooper's version of events.
"I saw his arm have three movements in a plunging motion while the other person was underwater," she said.
Mr Thomson - the father of famed shaper Dan Thomson - told the court he was shocked when he felt a severe impact in the middle of his back and had no idea what hit him.
"There was an unknown entity under the water trying to grab and pull me," he said. "I was in shock, I was in pain, I was injured."
Mr Thomson agreed he apologised to Ms Cooper after the incident. "I think I said sorry I thought you were attacking me," he said.
The magistrate said Mr Thomson's story lacked credibility. The court was told the incident took place on a day of excellent surf at Lennox Head, with more than 100 surfers in the water.
Mr Thomson was asked whether it was common surf etiquette not to 'drop in' on a rider already on a wave.
"Not when there's 100 people out," he replied.
Ms Cooper said she was relieved when the guilty verdict was delivered.
"I've seen a lot of horrible occurrences in the water; there are still a few shifty characters out there who are still doing this," she said. "I hope this sends a message, not only to the people who are doing it but to the people who are fearful.
"I just hope that I give enough encouragement to people to be brave enough to stand up to bullies."
A sentence will be handed down next month.
The magistrate has ordered that Carcass be assessed for his suitability for community service work.
// BRUCE MACKENZIE and LEAH WHITE
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