North Wollongong one-hit was ‘pre-emptive’, rapper tells court

ACCUSED: Jake Sara (right) departs Wollongong Courthouse on Friday. Laurie Gripton (bottom left) was in court to see video of the hit that left his son unconscious.

ACCUSED: Jake Sara (right) departs Wollongong Courthouse on Friday. Laurie Gripton (bottom left) was in court to see video of the hit that left his son unconscious.

A North Wollongong man who launched a damaging one-hit attack outside an area nightspot believed he was landing a pre-emptive blow, a court has heard.  

CCTV footage played to Wollongong Local Court on Friday showed 23-year-old Jake Sara launching himself at his victim, Ryan Gripton, outside Pepe’s on the Beach, the night of April 16.

The blow rendered Mr Gripton unconscious for about 10 minutes. He later required nine staples to the left side of his head and underwent surgery to implant permanent metal stabilising components in his broken jaw. 

Sara, a fitter and turner by trade with several YouTube rap videos to his name, has pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm. 

However in court on Friday, his lawyer, Anthony Williamson said Sara had tried to avoid a physical altercation earlier in the night, and believed he was heading off more violence when he landed the blow. 

An agreed version of events, tendered to the court, reveals Sara got into a verbal argument with Ryan Gripton’s brother Todd in the men’s toilets about 9.40pm. 

With a friend, the brothers later approached Sara, with Sara and Todd Gripton involved in a brief, heated argument before Todd Gripton grabs Sara around the neck and a melee erupts.  

Sara then runs from the venue, while security prevents a group of men, including Ryan Gripton, from leaving. 

“We say that a second or two after Jake Sara runs out of the premises, the victim and several males attempt to exit the premises  chasing after [Sara]  – and are restrained by security,” Mr Williamson said. 

“They walked behind security to exit the front door once security are distracted.” 

He argued Ryan Gripton looked southward before exiting the venue, to where Sara was, and walked straight ahead, ignoring a security guard who directed him to walk in the opposite direction. 

Mr Williamson said his client couldn’t “just keep running” because he was with his girlfriend, who became involved in a separate altercation while leaving the venue. That incident is the subject of unrelated court action. 

Sara’s explanation of events was met with audible scoffs from members of the Gripton family.

Outside court, Ryan Gripton’s father Laurie Gripton said his son “hasn’t been the same” since the incident. 

Laurie Gripton addresses reporters outside court.

Laurie Gripton addresses reporters outside court.

“The video showed it all. It wasn’t no unprovoked attack. Sara’s come from behind and coward punched my son from behind. I’ve never seen something so disgusting in my whole life.” 

The matter returns to court for sentencing on December 8.