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‘Wilfred’ actor left bus driver homeless, ruined: court

June 7, 2012

Race day shame … Jason Gann. The actor who plays a sociopathic, bong-smoking dog in the TV comedy Wilfred must pay $325,000 to a bus driver he attacked when he was refused a seat at a Melbourne race course.

Actor Jason Gann was ordered to compensate Joseph Hosny, who has suffered depression as a result of trauma stemming from the assault at Melbourne’s spring racing carnival in November 2007.

Mr Gann is best known for his role as the title character in comedy show Wilfred, in which he dons a furry grey dog suit and smokes, drinks and talks to his owner.

He pleaded guilty in 2008 to unlawfully assaulting Mr Hosny, but he was spared a conviction so he could continue his lucrative acting career in the US.

Court documents show Mr Gann became enraged when Mr Hosny denied him a ride on a packed shuttle bus from a corporate marquee at Flemington Racecourse on Derby Day in 2007.

He abused Mr Hosny and punched him repeatedly in the head. Passengers pushed Mr Gann from the bus, but he returned, tried to rip Mr Hosny from the driver’s seat and punched him again.

Mr Gann got off the bus but then tried to open the driver’s door and punched the window until Mr Hosny drove away.

Victorian County Court Judge Sandra Davis yesterday awarded Mr Hosny $325,000 in damages, acknowledging the attack had had a devastating impact on his life.

Mr Hosny had told the court he feared for his life during the attack. The court heard he suffered flashbacks, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was unable to work, had split from wife and was living in cheap accommodation after having to sell his home.

‘‘He is homeless, scared of people, has panic attacks and suicidal thoughts,’’ Justice Davis said in her judgment. ‘‘I take into account that Mr Hosny is 50 years old and must live with the consequences of the assault for the rest of his life.’’

Mr Gann did not defend the civil proceedings brought by Mr Hosny.

WorkCover, which paid Mr Hosny’s medical fees, was also seeking compensation from Mr Gann for the $113,000 it had already paid Mr Hosny. That matter was settled privately.

Wilfred ran for two seasons on Australian TV between 2007 and 2010 and has since been remade for the US market with Mr Gann starring alongside Elijah Wood.

Justice Davis also ordered Mr Gann to pay Mr Hosny’s court costs.

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