THE man who smashed a cream pie into Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s face during a keynote address at a business breakfast has pleaded guilty to common assault.
Anthony David Overheu, 67, shoved the pie into Mr Joyce’s face when he was speaking at a West Business Leadership Matters event at the Hyatt Regency in May.
Overheu says the stunt was his “foolish” way of making a statement about corporate Australia trying to influence social issues, including gay marriage.
The former farmer pleaded guilty to common assault, trespass, damage and giving false details to police in Perth Magistrate’s Court this afternoon.
Pie thrower targets Qantas boss Alan Joyce
Defence lawyer Tom Percy said Overheu had been concerned about people in high places “grandstanding about public issues” for some time.
He told the court Overheu bought the pie with the intention of making a statement rather than harming Mr Joyce and said the father of three held no grudges against the Qantas boss.
“In a gross error of judgment he thought he might take this opportunity to make his point in a very public way,” Mr Percy said.
“He doesn’t try to laugh it off. He has expressed deep remorse for his offending.”
The court was told Overheu had a depressive illness and was the full-time carer for his cancer stricken wife.
Overheu arrived at the Hyatt more than an hour before the 7.30am event and sneaked into the function room before it started.
He waited until Mr Joyce was addressing about 500 guests at 8.15am to shove the lemon meringue pie into his face.
Overheu then went into the lobby and sat in a chair until police approached him.
He told officers his name was Tony Davis before officers took him away for questioning.
Mr Percy said Overheu had no criminal record and those people who wrote character references for the court spoke very highly of him.
He said Overheu had expressed significant remorse, had apologised to the sponsors and venue and had been removed from the management committee of his local church.
Magistrate Greg Smith adjourned the sentencing until later today to consider Overheu’s punishment as well as Mr Percy’s application for a spent conviction.
The spent conviction application was not opposed by police.
Overheu has been slapped with a lifetime ban from Qantas, which prohibits him from travelling on flights operated by Qantas, Jetstar or any partner airline.
After the incident, Mr Joyce described Mr Overheu’s behaviour as unacceptable and vowed to continue to speak out and campaign on social issues.
“We live in a society where we have freedom of speech,” he said.
“Nobody should be intimidated.”