A 40-year-old man from South Australia’s south east who punched the owner of the Nangwarry general store several times in the face after a dispute over $1 has been given a suspended sentence.

Mika Zvonko Perkovic pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault causing harm of Lewis Hanna, 66, from March 24 last year.

Magistrate Koula Kossiavelos gave Perkovic a suspended sentence of two months and 24 days, plus an 18-month good behaviour bond, during sentencing in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court yesterday.

Magistrate Kossiavelos said the assault was made worse in that it was committed on someone serving the community.

“It doesn’t matter what that person may have said, a fight over a dollar, for you to come back and start punching that person as if they are a punching bag, is no excuse in relation to what is acceptable in our society,” she said.

Mika Perkovic (left) leaving court with his mother and lawyer last year.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

The court heard Perkovic had gone to the Nangwarry Serv-Well store to buy a carton of beer but was $1 short.

Mr Hanna asked for the rest of the money but Perkovic left the store anyway.

He later returned, throwing coins into the shop, yelling: “There’s your f***ing dollar.”

Mr Hanna ran to close the door but was assaulted by Perkovic who left the store but was arrested later that night and admitted the crime at the first opportunity in court.

Perkovic’s lawyer, John Williamson, told the court that since the assault his client had stopped using methamphetamine and had reduced his alcohol use.

A pre-sentence report said Perkovic, who had no previous convictions, had anti-social personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Store’s future sealed

Mr Hanna’s victim impact statement read to the court said he needed five stitches around his eye and still suffered from headaches and poor sleep.

Mr Hanna had to get five stitches after the assault.(Supplied: Facebook)

He told ABC South East SA that his first thought after the assault was to close the store for good.

“But you feel a responsibility to the people of the community that a lot of the elderly need to come in and get their newspapers and their butter and their milk and stuff,” he said.

“We kept on going, but certainly after that I always look over my shoulder and you go home and you put up security cameras and security lights and stuff.

“It’s certainly been a lesson that I’ve learnt, that’s for sure.”

Mr Hanna and his partner Jillian moved to Nangwarry in 2022, hoping to find a place with less crime than where they used to live in Alice Springs.

Mr Hanna and a business partner bought the local store in the town of about 500 people.

Nangwarry is set to lose its general store next month.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Mr Hanna told the ABC that he planned to close the store next month, due more to its economic viability than the effect of the assault, although the attack had left him despondent about the state of the town he had moved to.

“It’s not a viable proposition. The corner store really is something of the past,” he said.

Nangwarry also has a petrol station, which Mr Hanna expected would take over some elements of his business.

Get our local newsletter, delivered free each Friday

Posted , updated